Silicon Valley Pride Drag Brunch delivers a lesson on unity with a scary twist


Aylin Salahifar

WooWoo Monroe engages the crowd as she lip-syncs along to a Halloween-themed song.

The San Jose drag brunches hosted by Silicon Valley Pride (SVP) provide a safe space to learn about the LGBTQ community while being entertained by talented drag queens.

Held at SoFA Market, the brunch on Oct. 20 was crowded with diverse members from the community, all waiting in anticipation for the Halloween-themed show to start.

Families with children sat alongside rowdy teenagers in the tightly packed cafe. As the drag show began, the air was filled with cheers from the audience while everyone settled back, enjoyed their food, and prepared for an excellent show.

The two hosts of the afternoon, Alpha Andromeda and Jackie Layshun, presented each performer as they took the stage. 

Every drag queen dressed as a spooky character with full-face makeup and glamorous costumes. As they danced and lip-synced to music, the queens circulated around the room and collected tips from enthusiastic audience members.

“My favorite part of performing drag is getting on stage, entertaining people, and having my ideas come to life. During these drag brunches, we get to perform in a very open, inclusive space where we can talk about LGBTQ issues,” Layshun said.

For many attendees, these brunches are their primary way to experience drag. 

Attendee Erika Cisneros, the outreach coordinator for LGBTQ Youth Space, attributes this to the fact that until very recently, the main outlets for drag performers were gay clubs and bars. Both of these are places that cisgender or heterosexual people do not frequently go to.

“Having a recurring drag performance in a public space that all kinds of folks can access is incredibly important. It helps lend to the truth that the LGBTQ community is not scary or harmful but rather artistic and creative,” Cisneros said. 

This message of love and unity is exactly what SVP, an organization that has been promoting LGBTQ rights for over 44 years, wishes to spread. 

SVP offers fun, family-friendly events to San Jose and the neighboring cities. One of its most popular events is the monthly San Jose Drag Brunch. 

For many who take part in the pride celebrations organized by SVP, it is a chance for them to engage with their community and commemorate the fight for LGBTQ equality. 

Under the current political climate, some drag queens like Andromeda believe that this is more important than ever. 

“Good drag connects a crowd to the performer and brings people together. I’ve experienced that drag really flourishes in times when society has a lot of issues, which is especially relevant under this current administration,” Andromeda said.

Currently, SVP is the largest pride organization of the South Bay, but that took the work of many people who have fought hard for equity and progression. 

In the future, organizers and attendees of the SVP drag brunches alike want to see more public events dedicated to educating about the LGBTQ community. 

Important issues such as the de-stigmatization of HIV and AIDS and increased representation in media are also major goals.

“Creating more opportunities for community spaces like [SoFA Market] for people of all backgrounds to come together would be a huge step for drag. And in turn, it would be a huge step for the whole LGBTQ community,” Andromeda said.