- MOHAMMED ASHTAIL
- Drag performer Coco Marie is BICOPalypse’s host.
For Sharestha Drall, everything is fuel for her next joke, from the iced chai latte she's sipping to how people react to her sexuality. Delivering punchline after punchline, her eyebrows shoot up while she watches for a reaction. As an American Indian, "like, called a terrorist type of Indian," and a self-described queer, Drall says she likes taking people by surprise.
Right now Drall is crafting a comedy set—her second ever—for the first ever BIPOCalypse Performance Festival, an evening of entertainment written and performed by LGBTQ people who are Black, Indigenous or people of colour (that's the "BIPOC"). For her, making people laugh has been a way to cope: "I had a very difficult life, and the way I coped with that life is humour. Laughter is one of the most important ways for people to express themselves. So I just wanted to share my perspective and have people outside our community hear it," she says.
The show, taking place July 1 for people of colour and for general audiences July 2 at The Bus Stop Theatre, is meant to help new performers like Drall find the space to share their unique stories. As Cristina Raquel, one of the event co-organizers explains in a phone interview: "The gay scene here is very white," and while there are people trying to change that, Raquel says attending BIPOCalypse gives people "room to do more work around listening and not talking to hear these stories that we might never reveal to them one on one. We're offering them our vulnerability."
Drall struggled growing up, feeling different from other kids but not necessarily fitting the mold in the gay community, either. "I first looked at myself and was like, 'Holy shit I like girls.' I freaked out, because no other brown girl I knew was gay. And then I was like 'Maybe I'm bisexual.' Nothing felt right. And then I was just like 'OK, I'm just queer.'"
By allowing a variety of LGBTQ stories from a range of people (like Drall), Raquel hopes to help others on their journey: "It's coming from their space of being a marginalized person and what kind of armour they're putting on to deal with this throughout their day."
BIPOCalypse Performance Festval
Fri-Sat July 1-2, 8pm
The Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen Street
Pay what you can