Unconventional Queer Fest

Ebone Bell's Capital Queer Prom begets this weekend's TaggFest

After years of producing a queer prom, Eboné Bell decided to kick things up a notch and launch a full-day LGBT convention-type event.

From workshops on sex, relationships and identity, to a self-defense class, to a craft beer tasting with DC Brau, TaggFest was designed “to bring the whole queer community together, no matter how you identify,” Bell says. “We created breakout sessions that aren’t just all really serious, but also a little fun, in an environment where people feel safe, where they can voice their opinions, educate and inspire one another and hopefully have conversations afterward.”

In fact, TaggFest is just one of two events Bell, in conjunction with her local lesbian magazine Tagg, is throwing this Saturday, Aug. 26, at downtown’s Almas Temple. A few hours after TaggFest ends, Bell and company offer the Masquerade Gala. “Anyone who enjoyed the prom,” she says referring to the Capital Queer Prom, “will definitely still get that same feel from the Masquerade Gala.”

DJ Rosie and DJ MIM will encourage dancing among the gala-goers, dressed up in semi-formal or formal wear as well as masks. Danella Sealock from NBC4 will serve as special guest and host for the gala, which will feature a silent auction as well as a Duke and Duchess competition similar to the prom’s King and Queen. Both events benefit the Wanda Alston Foundation.

Whether there will be another Capital Queer Prom, which Bell and her team produced the last seven years, is unlikely. “Honestly, we’re not sure,” Bell says. “The whole goal is to basically evolve the prom, and I feel that TaggFest and Masquerade Gala is essentially the prom, but just evolved.”

The prom and the gala, for one thing, appeal equally to those who like dressing up.

“How many times,” asks Bell, “do we get dressed up to hang with our friends, dance and enjoy each other’s company? It doesn’t happen a lot.”

TaggFest is Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by the Masquerade Gala, 7 to 11 p.m., at Almas Temple, 1315 K St. NW. Tickets are $30 for TaggFest, $45 for the gala, or $65 combined. Visit taggfest.com.

Doug Rule is a theater critic and contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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