There was a lot of trash in the old warehouse but everyone pitched in, and within hours all of it was disposed of and the stage was built. Rainbow bunting appeared, and tables and chairs soon surrounded a temporary dance floor. A row of blankets strung on an overhead line created a changing room for the performers who would be strutting their stuff for the last time in Knoxville. After shows were outlawed, they’d been forced to hold underground galas but the cops were intensifying their enforcement so they were going to stop due to concerns about police brutality. This show might not have happened if it weren’t for Diva Jane. Originally, the show was scheduled for a vacant theater but the owner reneged after receiving death threats from a church group that heard about it. Diva Jane got busy and used the internet to locate an absentee owner and rent the warehouse. She saved the day and brought smiles to formerly glum faces.
Everyone was asked to carpool as much as possible or park a bit away so there wouldn’t be hundreds of cars in the lot. No dressing as a girl until in the building, no makeup ahead of time, no large luggage. Everything would happen behind closed doors. As darkness came, small groups used the secret knock to gain admittance. By then, a buffet meal had been laid out, along with coolers of beer and bottles of wine. People hugged, shook hands, and cried about the end of a harmless pursuit being persecuted by ignorance.
With forty performers there was a lot of coordination required to get everyone costumed and made up, but they all worked together and got the show started. The audience settled into their seats, bright lights flared, and the portable karaoke setup played “Staying alive” which was the theme of the party. Soon, it was a spectacular display of lip-syncing, dancing, and general hilarity. The participants were temporarily able to dismiss the hurt and anger of being singled out for unjust punishment. After this night there would be an exodus as those willing to relocate would migrate to friendlier climes. Those who were unable to leave the area would have to hide their sequins and boas until they could visit clubs in other states.
One of the performers caused a sensation when she opened a rolling suitcase that elicited chastising remarks when she first arrived, but her rule breaking was understood when her prop emerged. The snake was huge. After slithering up her arm, the snake coiled around her body as she swayed to a jungle beat. Her show was absolutely mesmerizing and her reward was a standing ovation when they left the stage. Though it was a hard act to follow, ensuing performers soared to great heights and everyone agreed that it was the best show ever. No one wanted it to end, but eventually, faces came off, girls turned back to men, and looked around for danger as they stepped into the night. Diva Jane supervised as the furnishings were loaded into a van the rental company supplied. (They believed it was for a birthday bash.) When the warehouse was once again vacant, the only signs of their passing was a dusting of glitter on the floor and the smell of perfume in the air. Diva Jane turned the key in the lock and sighed, wishing people were kinder and didn’t use hatred to constrict the lives of others. She’d undergone sexual reassignment years earlier and could dress as a woman openly and legally but was tired of the mentality in that part of the country. Though it might not last forever, Oregon seemed a safe haven for now, since the Governor was a lesbian and an advocate for equal human rights. To that end she’d bought a small cottage with a view of the beach. Hopefully, this would be her last relocation.
Personal note…I take pride in the fact I live as a woman 24/7/365. No one can make me stop unless they kill me or throw me in jail and I feel no shame as I walk through the world. Those who know me personally know what a girly girl I am and how much fashion, fun, and creativity mean to me. Like we said in the sixties-keep on, keeping on. Never stop expressing your true inner self. My heart goes out to those in peril and I can only hope they find safe purchase.