The performers were fantastic, a drag king kissed my cheek, it was 90’s night, people looked at me like I was fresh meat (been a long time since that’s happened!). I’ll definitely go back.
But the drag show made me incredibly homesick for Milwaukee. Finally. Aside from some friends and food, I haven’t really missed the MidWest much. The differences between there and here confound me sometimes, but I miss the SouthWest much more (and that’s just a constant). Overall, the move to Nashville was definitely for the best: 1 catcall in 3 months, whoring is so much better, I love my job, it’s warmer, it’s greener, the poly community is amazing, there’s a great dungeon, I’m meeting kinky nerds, I’m living with my lover and I’m far away from my ex and his bullshit. Essentially the only places that I’ve missed have changed with time and can’t be revisited anyway (malls in the late 90’s, Belmont & Clark right before emo started, the Adler Planetarium when it was still hating on the USSR).
But the Milwaukee queer community I miss dearly now. It’s extremely open to anyone, it’s educational, it focuses on local charity, it provides safehavens to those who need it, it has EVERYTHING. I can’t imagine a better community where I could have had my queer coming-of-age. The Miltown Kings drag troupe in particular makes it a point to comfort everyone in a safe atmosphere and they also have worked with dozens of nonprofits, volunteer organizations and campaigns. There is a ton of drama, believe me! But it’s set aside when shit needs to get done. I remember when photography was banned at their shows because not everyone was out! Now they want everyone to show off everything all the time, educate and welcome everyone. I’m homesick for them.
And then there’s Milwaukee PrideFest, the annual 3 day festival. Pride Friends, the people you only ever see at PrideFest but you’re so happy to see each other every year. I remember when queers from all over Wisconsin would come down and have their only Pride experience for the entire year - now they’re making spaces in their own communities and they bring their kids down to PrideFest! My high school reunion is the Saturday night of PrideFest 2014 and I really hope I can do both. I’m homesick for Milwaukee PrideFest even more than this time of year when I lived there.
The Chicago queer scene never impressed me: rampant transphobia and racism, people judged you by the labels you wore, one-upping each other all the time, drama gets in the way of everything. The Madison queer scene is very welcoming and educational, but they have had severe management issues for years. Milwaukee’s queer scene is the absolute best. I’ve seen people transition, advance in their careers, get into relationships, get out of relationships, fuck up relationships, have kids, have dogs, have cats, get addicted, break addictions, move away, come back. Everyone always has their eye on each other, which is really shitty when you’re trying to keep a messy breakup private - but it’s also comforting in some ways. The familiarity and comfort are so far away now.
Of course one drag show here doesn’t tell me much about the Nashville drag troupe or queer community. It was very different from the Miltown Kings community: nobody in bondage gear, only 1 performer spoke to the audience to announce an upcoming drag pageant, the performers clearly put a LOT of money into their appearances, no PBR (maybe that’s for the best), more racial diversity but less diversity of bodies. I’ll definitely return to learn more, but for now I actually wish I was in Milwaukee.