Make.shift opens their doors each year for an all-ages, free dance party in partnership with Bellingham Pride // Photo by Allayana Darrow
The sun was still up at 9 p.m. in downtown Bellingham, but Lily Daugherty and her friends were ready to party. Daugherty, 14, performed as “Liam Hogwart” in her second drag show on Friday, July 13, at the Make.Shift Art Space.
As part of Bellingham’s Pride celebration this weekend, Make.Shift hosted a free event: “Pride Youth Dance and Drag Show featuring DJ Buffet.”
Originally from Blaine, Daugherty said the LGBTQ+ community is more open in Bellingham. She said she favors Bellingham because of the opportunities to be involved in the queer community.
As the “cupid” of her friend group, Daugherty hopes events like this inspire more queer people to follow their hearts.
Daugherty’s parents, members of a polyamorous relationship, came to support their daughter and watch her perform. They said the key to getting youth to understand modern gender issues is to start early.
“We’re raising citizens of the world,” Daugherty’s father said.
Adorned with a rose crown and matching red lipstick, Chelsea Crook, 13, was eager to get the party started.
“Most people hate me, but I attract the gays,” Crook said.
Gavin Soukup, 15, offered hugs to his friends as they shared their reasons for coming to the event and how they have navigated their queer identity thus far. Soukup said he is always looking to expand his friend group, especially within the queer community.
Drag queens La La and Wendy mingled in the crowd, taking pictures with admiring teens. Both queens have been performing for nearly five years; La La was crowned “Miss Gay Bellingham” last year and “Imperial Crown Princess” this year. Down the basement stairs that read, “STAY BOLD OR GET OLD,” Jesse Thurston, also known as DJ Buffet, rocked out at the back of an empty dance floor. Rainbow colored lights in the basement of Make.Shift decorated arms and legs at the edges of the performance space. Thurston said the Youth Dance is a chance for queer youth to come out and express themselves.
With a bedazzled beard, hot-pink tights and knee-high, lace-up boots, La La recognized most of the faces in the crowd. The ones she didn’t know, she hugged anyway.
Bellingham Pride continues this weekend with events throughout Bellingham. On Saturday, July 14, scheduled events include Pride Family Barbecue at Boundary Bay Brewery at noon, a drag show at 6 p.m. at Rumors Cabaret, a benefit brunch at 8 a.m. and benefit dinner at 4 p.m. at Homeskillet.
The Pride Parade begins at noon on Sunday, July 15, at Ohio and Halleck Streets and finishes at Depot Market Square. The Pride Festival will continue in Depot Market Square until 6 p.m.