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Queer Things to Do: Bask in Art, Learn Stand-Up, Support a Good Cause For Black History Month

Sarah Bricker Hunt

February is Black History Month, a time to honor Black lives and culture. This month, bask in the undefinable opulence that is the artist Dion, watch a documentary about trailblazing queer comic artists like Rupert Kinnard and pour out some love for Noelle Scaggs, the Fitz and The Tantrums singer and diversity evangelist.

1. Check Out Gender-Defying Art 

Artist Darryl DeAngelo Terrell, aka Dion, will challenge your perceptions about what it means to be fat, Black, queer and femme at a free gallery show, “I Owe You Nothing, This Is For Me,” on display now through Feb. 18 at Galerie Camille in Detroit. As their alter ego Dion, the Detroit native examines the Black urban aesthetic, including wigs, luscious fur coats, opulent jewelry, peacock wicker chairs and other items that allude to “Black queer opulence,” according to a news release.

“Being a big bitch, in a world of small hoes, I exude an energy and identity that don’t completely fit into the binary,” Dion says in the release. “I exist in a void… I explore what it means to be desired, more than to just fit in, but to feel fucking included, to exist in a place where my body in all of its Blackness, queerness, fatness and femme-ness is the norm.”

Through Feb. 18 at Galerie Camille, 4130 Cass Ave., Detroit. Learn more about the exhibit at galeriecamille.com.

2. You Got Jokes? Good. Bring Them to Stand-Up Class.

Has anyone ever suggested you should have your own standup routine? Here’s your chance to give it a try in a safe space. “The Femme, Them & Queer Experience” stand-up comedy workshop, set for Feb. 12 at Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck, is an open mic boot camp where you’ll learn about the basics of the art of stand-up, techniques for slaying on stage and how to stay safe along the way. Local stand-up veteran Hailey Zureich, the self-proclaimed Posh Spice of the local comedy scene, will lead the three-hour workshop.

The workshop is limited to people who identify as femme, them and/or queer.

Feb. 12, 1-4 p.m., Ant Hall, 2320 Caniff St., Hamtramck. Visit t.ly/hpZK to learn more and buy tickets.

3. Don’t Miss Fitz (and The Tantrums, Too)

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Noelle Scaggs and Michael Fitzpatrick of Fitz and The Tantrums. Photo: Facebook (Fitz and The Tantrums)

Come for the ridiculously infectious tunes when Fitz and The Tantrums plays St. Andrews Hall in Detroit Feb. 4, stay in support of the behind-the-scenes work band member Noelle Scaggs has been doing to promote real diversity throughout the concert industry.

In 2020, the musician sent an open letter to the music industry that read in part, “As an artist and a Black woman of color, I can and will no longer accept being the only like me in any room or any stage.” Soon after came Diversify the Stage, a non-profit with a mission to promote more inclusive hiring practices and greater access to equitable opportunities for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, female-identifying, gender-nonconforming individuals and disabled persons.

In addition to supporting artists who support important causes, you’re in for a rambunctious, wholesomely fun time.

Feb. 4,  St. Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Tickets at livenation.com.

4. Learn About Influential Queer Comic Artists 

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No Straight Lines,” a new documentary airing on PBS, explores five queer comic book artists who have journeyed from the underground comix scene to more mainstream acceptance. Featured in the doc is artist Alison Bechdel, whose 1985 comic, “Dykes to Watch Out For,” launched the Bechdel test, which measures representation of women in media.

The film also features Black queer comic artist Rupert Kinnard, who created the first ongoing LGBTQ+ Black comic strip characters (the Brown Bomber and Diva Touché Flambé).

Streaming now at pbs.org/independentlens/documentaries/no-straight-lines.

5. Celebrate Black History Month by Supporting a Great Queer Cause

Southeast Michigan is unique to many other regions in that there are multiple ways to support the Black queer community. Consider donating or volunteering for one of these local causes:

  • LGBT Detroit, host of the events Hotter Than July and Cold as Hell. The organization’s mission is “to increase awareness of and support Detroit's dynamic LGBT culture through education and advocacy with integrity and pride.” LGBTDetroit.org
  • Ruth Ellis Center, named in honor of an early Black, open lesbian entrepreneur, performs outreach in many predominately-Black Detroit area communities, including its new Clairmount Center, a supportive living community that provides trauma-informed services for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults of color. ruthelliscenter.org
  • TG Detroit, an organization focused on transgender supportive services throughout Southeast Michigan. The annual TransFusion conference brings together hundreds of transgender women each year for an event that changes lives and promotes trans joy. tgdetroit.com 
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