Since its establishment in 2005, the Binghamton Pride Coalition has used its platform as a leading LGBTQ group in the greater Binghamton area to promote the acceptance of all sexualities and genders. With its upcoming 17th annual “Toys for Tots Drag Show & Holiday Party,” the coalition expands its community outreach into fundraising for underprivileged children.
The event will be hosted at Squiggy’s Bar on Chenango Street. Squiggy’s is the only LGBTQ bar still open in the Binghamton area and it serves as the spot for several LGBTQ-related events, including an “After PRIDE Rainbow Dance Party,” to be held in June. The Toys for Tots event has carried on for 17 years but originally began as the idea of Binghamton LGBTQ bar owner Doug Guiles. Guiles owned another Binghamton-based LGBTQ bar, Prism, and was a huge part of the LGBTQ community, but was murdered in 2004 inside his own establishment.
“Doug believed no child should be without the magic of the holidays,” said Ms. Dede Kupps, a local drag queen organizing this year’s event. “After Doug’s murder, the LGBTQ community has honored him by continuing his dream.”
The night will begin with a drag show hosted by Kupps and Mistress Katrina, another local queen. There will be many performers, including Kupps and Katrina themselves and a number of live musicians. Following the performances, a holiday party will take place in Squiggy’s bar where both food and drinks will be served.
According to Chris Waters, the director of the Binghamton Pride Coalition, both Kupps and Katrina are extremely involved in the local LGBTQ community and have contributed in numerous ways aside from hosting this event.
“They are both very gracious with their time and participate and host our annual Pride Palooza event in June,” Waters said. “They have hosted other fundraisers in the area for other worthy causes including supporting families that need help either with a loss in their family or tragedy.”
The event is centered around fundraising for underprivileged kids, so the cover charge is either $5 or an unwrapped toy at the door. While the night is filled with fun and entertainment, the organizers make it clear that there is a larger purpose being served behind everything.
“Events like these show that we are folks that care about our community and not just the LGBTQ community,” Waters said. “We care about everyone and want to help any way we can.”
The Binghamton Pride Coalition’s mission statement on their Facebook page is the commitment to “ending oppression based upon sexuality and gender,” but according to Waters, there is a clear dedication to working in other areas of the community as well.
“It shows unity and that we all like to help others,” Waters said. “The LGBTQ community has been doing fundraisers for different causes for years, this is just one that helps all of the community.”
The event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 8 at Squiggy’s Bar located at 34 Chenango St. The doors will open at 8 p.m., the drag show will begin at 9 p.m. and the holiday party will follow afterward. An 18+ ID must be presented at the door.