Right smack in the geographic center of the Cincinnati-Dayton Metroplex sits Springboro, Ohio.
Known mostly for their Oktoberfest and 3-day Christmas festival, Springboro is not widely regarded as an LGBTQ+ Ohio destination. Well…not yet.
Atlanta Dayèrayè is determined to change Springboro’s reputation.
How bad is it that I’ve never heard of Springboro, Ohio?
<laughs> Honestly, not bad at all. Springboro, Ohio is a small city. It’s known to be conservative, but I’ve seen that change over time.
Tell us your history with Springboro.
I live about five minutes away from Springboro. I went to Centerville schools which were just a city over from Springboro so I’m always in area. My friends who live in Springboro always mention that drag shows weren’t happening there and that there’s no real feeling of LGBTQIA+ community. And I’ve spoken to a few teachers who said that there are a lot of students who are part of the LGBTQ community but they are too afraid to come out or stand out. So I’m definitely trying to make this a community that is here for both the older generation as well as the younger generation.
Where did your efforts start?
I was looking for a bar for about a year to host a show, and I finally found The Barrel. Online, they said they’re LGBT friendly. So I messaged them to see if we could get drag shows on their schedule.
Not even 5 minutes later, Dawn, one of the owners, messaged me right back and said she was very interested in having drag events. I met up with her three days later and we got the ball rolling. I set up all the posters and the event online, and we sold out in like 72 hours.
Yes! We sold 14 eight-tops, 10 individual tickets, and about 4 two-tops. It will be a great crowd. And, of course we will be following all guidelines with COVID-19 to make sure it is a safe show for everybody.
How is this drag show a great first step for Springboro?
I think it’s a great first step because I have seen so much love in the community already through my posts [on the Springboro Facebook page]. Of course, you’re going to have a few individuals who don’t agree with it. I’m trying to not even listen to them or give those posts too much attention.
We’re going to show people that drag performers are here to have fun, to entertain, and to put on a good show. We’re not trying to corrupt your children. We’re just trying to educate as much as we can.
What about future plans? How do you follow up this first drag show?
We already have a second show in place! There is no date to announce yet, but we will soon. Dawn from The Barrel put me in charge of being the host and show director for the bar. My vision for the future is to add some drag brunches, maybe some kid-friendly brunches, and drag story-time.
More generally, there’s so much other work to do with regards to LGBTQIA+ education in Springboro. As I said, I spoke to a teacher who told me she has a lot of students who are so afraid of coming out because Springboro is known as being so conservative. From my point of view, I don’t think it’s a conservative city. I just think there hasn’t been that much opportunity for LGBTQIA+ education, and we can provide that education so that no one is afraid to come out in the future. Down the road, we want to set up a LGBTQIA+ support group. And I hope to set up a Pride board so we can have Pride here.
What do you want the rest of the state to know about Springboro?
I want the state to know that you shouldn’t be afraid to make change in your community. I think so many small cities in Ohio are too afraid to have Pride or host drag shows, because they fear protesters or people who are not as open-minded. I want other small communities to know that if I can do it, you can do it too. It’s not impossible.
If a space doesn’t accept it, that’s ok. We’re all going to have different opinions in the long run. But if we can all live in the city as one, and not be separated in small, bickering groups, then love, acceptance and equality really will bring us together.
- Join the “Springboro, Ohio Equality For All” Facebook group to find out about future initiatives.