South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society kicks off month-long celebrations

·3 min read

The room filled with roaring laughter as Rez Daddy, a local Two-Spirit drag artist, strutted across the stage of a small cafe in snpink’tn (Penticton), where a sold-out crowd came together to celebrate Pride month.

The South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society’s Pride kickoff event took place at Dream Cafe on syilx territory on June 4, where Rez Daddy, also known as Madeline Terbasket, was described by a fellow queer performing artist as “really the first person” to create space for other queer people in their community.

“Rez Daddy, Madeline are two people that I admire greatly,” said Poettris, an agender poet, photographer and settler of French and English heritage who’s from the smelqmix (Lower Similkameen region).

“I don’t know if I would be as comfortable up here tonight if it wasn’t for them.”

Poettris and Rez Daddy were two of three 2SLGTBQIA+ performers headlining the event, joining Keisha McLean of Boundless Belly Dance. The three artists treated the audience to a night of poetry, mixes of Fusion and Raqs Sharqi dancing, and drag acts full of outlandish and vibrant song and dance.

“As a young person here, my goal is to create these sorts of spaces that we can all express ourselves,” said Poettris, also known as Tristan Joseph Boisvert.

“I really hope that this evening, for all of the young queer people out there, that this just that pinnacle or that lighthouse that shows you that this can be your path forward. I’m no exception.”

Poettris opened the night with a poetry reading, which was followed by an electric dance performance from McLean, who is of Black and white mixed heritage.

Rez Daddy finished off the first half of the night with an epic and high flying drag show. Earlier this week, Terbasket – who is a syilx, Ho-Chunk, and Anishinaabe performing artist – was nominated for best drag performer in Penticton.

“I came out as Two-Spirit in 2019. Then I started drag the same year and then the pandemic happened. I only got to get one live show in before the pandemic,” they said.

In the second half of the night, McLean kept the crowd amped with her mix of Fusion and Raqs Sharqi dancing, making way for Rez Daddy to sing his own rendition of Post Malone’s “I Fall Apart” before letting loose on stage to Nickelback’s “Burn It to the Ground.”

The evening concluded with a question period for the artists, with the audience inquiring about their influences, personal journeys and more.

McLean shared that she started doing what is colonially known as “belly dancing” at the age of seven.

“I think that, for me, there’s never been a me without the dance,” she said.

Terbasket said that in the last couple of years, they’ve really come into their own.

“I think that drag has really given me an art form to explore my masculine side where I never had the space to do that before,” they said.

Poettris cited both Terbasket and Rez Daddy as one of their influences.

“We went to school together. I always admired them from afar, for their talent and for the space that they created for queer people like myself in small communities to feel comfortable,” said Poettris.

Aaron Hemens, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse

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