A few simple words can make your whole month: “Hey, I just wanted to give you a head’s up that you’ve been nominated in the category of Best Burlesque Dancer for the Washington Blade‘s ‘Best of Gay DC’ this year!”
Not gonna lie: I did a wiggly little dance in my chair the day I found out.
It was like waiting for Santa Claus as the days passed between that conversation and the day the voting actually opened, but it’s here, and you can vote for me every day from now through October 3rd!
The nomination really was a surprise to me. I have no idea who nominated me (but thank you for it!) and I actually hadn’t realized that Best Burlesque Dancer, which is a new category this year, had actually been added. Plus, I’m still pretty new to the burlesque community and it wouldn’t have occurred to me that I could be honored like this so relatively early in this part of my performing career.
But this also confirms my feeling that the LGBTQ community is the home where I hang my heart as a burly girl. I made my debut with the DC Gurly Show, the capital’s only queer burlesque troupe, and immediately fell in love with the Phase 1 audience, who are some of the most loyal and vocal and loving fans a troupe could hope to have. I hadn’t really been in queer space for a while before that, and I realized how much I missed it. Burlesque, it turned out, wasn’t just the performance art I’d been longing to do for years– it was the glitter-fabulous doorway through which I returned to my own queer identity. One of my good friends and troupemates, Dainty Dandridge (one of my fellow nominees, BTW), explained the idea of “queerlesque” to a new member of the troupe once in a way that really rang true for me– she said something like, “Being queer is about being Other. When we as performers do shows for straight audiences, we’re usually the only Other– the only gay or bi performer, the only genderfluid, the only performer of size or color. In queerlesque, the whole show is Other.”
I love that. I love that freedom in our spaces to just be who and what you are and to be embraced for it. One of the best things about this career, this calling, one of the reasons I do it is for the audience members who talk to me afterward who have that light of revelation in their eyes and they’re talking about doing things they felt afraid or ashamed to try, they’re blown away by seeing someone who looks like them being celebrated as sexy and powerful, they’re seeing their Otherness as “beautiful because of” not “beautiful in spite of”. (I remember that feeling at my first burlesque show, when I saw the divine Coco Monroe bring down the house and I had never seen anything like that.)
Sure, I’d love to win this thing. But whether I do or not, I get to go to a big party on the 23rd when the awards are announced, and I get to dress to the nines and pose for pictures with my burly sisters and spend the night celebrating being among my people and feeling the love that’s being shown to me with this nomination. Excuse me while I go put on a tiara, because I definitely already won where it matters most!