Drag queens and bingo bring community together

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The Women’s March West Virginia, The Peddler, Huntington Pride and Branches Domestic Violence Shelter collaborated on a few commonalities—drag queens and bingo.

“There has to be solidarity in a movement, you have to involve the community in order to make a difference,” Ally Layman, director of Drag Me to Bingo and co-founder of Huntington Pride, said. “Domestic abuse is not a fun topic, so we wanted to get people involved in something that’s enjoyable and that can make a difference, even if the proceeds only help a few people.” 

Drag Me to Bingo, presented by Women’s March West Virginia and cohosted by Huntington Pride, allowed attendees to play 15 games of Bingo at the Peddler. “We want Huntington Pride to represent love and acceptance, and bringing the community together plays a major role in that,” Layman said.

The Women’s March West Virginia is a non-profit, social justice organization in West Virginia. The proceeds from Drag me to Bingo will be split between the organizations, with the majority benefiting Branches Domestic Violence Shelter. The shelter offers support and protection for those dealing with domestic abuse.

“Get a room full of drinks, food, drag queens and bingo, and you have a party; it doesn’t feel like community service,” Layman said. “Drag queens light up the room, they get people excited to be there.”

According to Futures Without Violence, one in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her life.

“A lot of domestic abuse victims are female, and I feel like drag queens as a group try to empower women and change people’s perspective on what can be entertaining,” Todd Gray, a drag queen that performed at the event, said. “It’s beyond just dressing up as a woman, it’s about self-expression and truly accepting all parts of yourself. I love to perform, why not do it for a really good cause?”

Megan Hetzer, the owner of The Peddler, said she welcomed Drag Me to Bingo to help support a good cause.

“Giving back feels good regardless, being able to provide a place to do so is even more important,” Hetzer said. “The Peddler is usually a place for people to come and enjoy themselves, why not extend our hours for one day to really make something good come out of it?”

Drag Me to Bingo offered prizes to the winners at the end, and the event sold out.

Sarah Rowe can be contacted at [email protected]

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