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Thorgy Thor comes to Denton for fourth annual drag show fundraiser

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Article Originally Published by Maria Lawson on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Maria Lawson on North Texas Daily

Rupaul’s Drag Race alumna Thorgy Thor dances through the crowd during her lip sync performance at the We Denton Drag It fundraiser on Sept. 11, 2021. Photo by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia

Four hundred people sprawled across the Harvest House patio turn their focus to a brightly lit stage, greeted by a RuPaul’s Drag Race season eight star in a hot pink dress with blond, voluminous hair.

Thorgy Thor took the stage at Harvest House Saturday for the fourth annual We Denton Drag It show, hosted by Friends With Benefits.

This year’s event raised money for the Coalition for Aging LGBT, a Dallas nonprofit focused on improving and protecting the quality of life for older members of the LGBTQ+ community in North Texas by providing services in health, housing, advocacy, financial security and social services, according to its website. 

“We feel like this specific nonprofit probably gets overlooked a lot,” said Mindy Arendt, co-founder and president of Friends With Benefits and Denton resident. “People always want to support with the legal things and everything, which [is] wonderful, but then there’s still a lot of things that the older generation of LGBT need.”

Friends With Benefits was founded nine years ago by Arendt and two of her friends to host events to raise money and awareness for other local nonprofits. Since its start, it has hosted events such as She-Rock, which raises money for women’s veteran nonprofits, Sister Act, which raises money for Friends with Benefits, and Keep Denton Warm, a clothing drive benefiting Our Daily Bread.

A team of five individuals from Friends With Benefits spend nine months collaborating to put on We Denton Drag It every year by finding funds, bookings, venue arrangements, promotions, permits and sponsorships. This is the event’s first year at Harvest House, and the organization plans to continue hosting it there for years to come, as the venue it was at the first three years closed down.

The new venue held one-third of the number of attendees that the past one could, but Arendt said it created a different environment that allowed the drag queens to interact with the crowd more.

“Even with 400 people there, you’ve got this intimate show of drag queens in your face [and] performing around you,” Arendt said. “You still got to feed off of the energy of everyone.”

To get Thor at the event, Arendt’s friend who was doing a project with Thor reached out to Friends With Benefits offering to connect Arendt to Thor’s agent. From that moment, Thor became the event’s headliner, after appearing on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season eight and “All Stars” season three.

During her set, Thor brought a show attendee and former Friends With Benefits employee to the front and had the crowd sing happy birthday while they sat on stage together. 

“Danielle’s one of my friends, so that was a cool little surprise that another board member did for her,” Arendt said.

After performances from 16 openers across three sets, saxophone-playing drag queen Kendra Dahl had the spotlight before Thor as the final opening act. Dahl got into performing as a drag musician by combining two things she loves to do.

Dahl said Thor has inspired her as a performer because Thor played the violin on RuPaul’s Drag Race, paving the way for other drag queens who don’t lip-sync but have different talents. 

“I think [the show] is important because drag queens kind of have a bad rap as far as, maybe they want to be women or we don’t really know where they stand in the community, but drag queens are extremely important because they’ve been around for a long, long time,” Dahl said. 

Show attendee Sergio Garcia, 46, was invited to the show and said the event was an evening of surprises, community and friendship.

“I appreciated the diversity of talent that was offered and how it was structured,” Garcia said. “I liked the fact that it wasn’t all drag and that the drag was even diverse in its aesthetics and representation.”

Garcia said health care for older members of the LGBTQ+ community is important as life expectancy is rising for those individuals. 

“As a queer person who identifies as a gay male, and as someone who is considered to be middle-aged, I see few spaces and places, especially in Texas and the South, that support older identified LGBT with services that meet their needs,” Garcia said. “A place where they can feel accepted and supported as an older queer person.”

Show attendee Hutch Ice, 36, has attended We Denton Drag It for its four years and said he enjoys how the event is diverse and inclusive for the Denton community.

“We have a lot of amazing drag and burlesque performers here in Denton and across North Texas, so it’s always exciting to hear people attending these shows who are blown away by the talent in the room they may not be as familiar with,” Ice said.

For next year’s event, Arendt said she hopes Friends With Benefits puts on another smooth, successful event. For more information about We Denton Drag It and Friends With Benefits can be found on fwbdenton.com.

Featured Image: Rupaul’s Drag Race alum Thorgy Thor dances through the crowd during her lip sync performance at the We Denton Drag It fundraiser on Sept. 11, 2021. Photo by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia

Source: North Texas Daily

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