VIDEO: Kiki with drag royalty on the red carpet at The Queerties


After nearly 2 years of waiting, The Queerties are coming out of the quarantine closet. Presented by our sister site Queerty, these awards celebrate the best of LGBTQ+ culture. A friend of GayCities, Mike Ciriaco, hit up the red carpet and kiki-ed with the fiercest queens, kings, and non-binary royalty The Queerties had to offer. Here’s your chance to get a glimpse of The Queerties before streaming on Wednesday, March 16th!

Mike with “Eastsiders” creator Kit Williamson. Photography by Jason Kentaro

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this year’s Queerties were hosted at Eden Sunset in Hollywood, notable as the venue of the first Emmy Awards. This event held a different significance for each of its myriad attendees. For Eastsiders creator Kit Williamson, it represented community.

“As queer people, we have this superpower where we actually support one another,” said Williamson on the red carpet. “I think that’s amazing”

In addition to fostering community, The Queerties also shine a spotlight on representation within LGBTQ culture. This year’s Icon Award recipient Michaela Jae Rodriguez made history as both the first openly trans woman nominated for the Emmy’s  ‘Best Lead Actress in a Drama’ award, as well as the first trans actress to win a Golden Globe. For Trans model and comedian Arisce Wanzer, Michaela Jae is a trailblazer.

“It’s really great visibility for all of us,” said Arisce.

And for RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Bianca Del Rio, it was all about pure bacchanalia.

“I’m excited because there’s an open bar,” quipped Bianco, winner of this year’s Drag Royalty award.

It’s worth mentioning that the last Queerties were held February 25th, 2020, just 2 weeks before LA County’s first reported COVID-19 death, and Governor Newsom’s subsequent Stay-at-Home order. For SoCal’s LGBTQ community, that was the last major gay soiree before quarantining. So for Bianca, the return of The Queerties is a return to queer camaraderie.

“I’m just excited to be around people again,” said the drag diva. “I never thought I’d say I like people, so this is new to me.”

Photography by Jason Kentaro

Undisputedly, coronavirus sucks. As of March 2022, over 31,000 people in LA County alone died from the pandemic. Yet, some Queer artists, like Tiktoker Ian Paget and his now ex-boyfriend Chris Olsen, sublimated their quarantine frustrations into online performances.

“During a time of such peril,” Ian explained, “when people feeling lonely, and not a lot of joy was happening, we were able to be this beacon of fun and hope. Then we got to meet a bunch of queer advocates in media, and a lot of beautiful things blossomed out of that muddy time.”

Photography by Jason Kentaro

Yet not all queer artists share Ian’s optimism. For RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Morgan McMichaels, quarantine deprived her of the thrill of live drag performances.

“I missed drag,” bemoaned Morgan. “I was drag from the waist up for two years and it was the bane of my existence. I think the nails, and the tuck, and the heels, everything makes you feel the fantasy. Doing it from the waist up was a little awkward. Doing it without an audience was a little awkward. The energy of an audience, there’s nothing like it.”

For other queer artists who, like Morgan, have been impacted by COVID-19, both professionally and emotionally, Ian advises patience and self-love.

“Just take one baby step at a time. Try not to think too far ahead. Take that one step. You did it. The second step, doing it. The doing is healing.”

RELATED: Gay geek Mike Ciriaco nerds out at LA Comic Con

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