LGBTQ Bar Holding Virtual Pride Festival
PrideFest is cancelled, but This Is It! will be streaming drag shows and DJ performances.
Unfortunately, PrideFest in Milwaukee won’t be happening this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But This is It!, the oldest LGBTQ bar in the state, is hosting a Virtual Pride from June 4th to June 7th.
Their event will feature nearly 80 drag performances as well as 6 DJ’s, and performances by other local artists and musicians. There will even be a reading of a “Golden Girls” episode by performers in drag.
“In the absence of physically being able to go somewhere and wave the flag around, we want to be able to give our community, our customers somewhere to go and celebrate each other,” said George Schneider.
Over the last two months the bar has held what they call Drag-A-Thon’s. They’re virtual drag shows with live music and DJ’s. Schneider said the viewership they get for their drag shows is usually equivalent or slightly higher than the actual capacity of the bar.
These virtual drag shows are for the benefit of performers, who lost a piece of their income when the pandemic stopped drag performances across the city. “We’re trying to keep the drag scene alive,” Schneider said.
The virtual pride event will essentially be an “augmentation” of the drag-a-thon’s, Schneider said, with drag performances and DJ’s. To prepare for the four-day virtual event, Schneider has been working tirelessly with his business partner Michael Fisher and the bar’s General Manager Chad Harrington filming performances in their bar. “My arms are tired from holding the camera,” Schneider said.
Schneider said the most important thing for the community is to stay safe. And while he and his business partner, like many other owners, have lost income during the pandemic, they have no plans to open This Is It! anytime soon. “We’re gonna listen to the local health authorities, and we’re going to make an educated decision on when to reopen, not a knee-jerk reaction.”
Like everyone else, Schneider wishes PrideFest could be held in person. But he won’t lose hope. “We’ll get through this,” he said. There will be an in-person Pride next year, he said. “In the meantime, we stay home and stay safe and have fun watching our local talent.”
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