PEORIA — Halloween is a chance for people to try on an alternate identity, but this year some folks will get the chance to openly express their own identity in a place they may not have otherwise felt comfortable doing so.
A monthly event in cities all across the country, Guerilla Queer Bar Take Over will hold its inaugural pop-up in Peoria from 9 to midnight Oct. 31 when a group of people who identify as gay, transgender or queer will gather at a “straight” bar en masse. In keeping with the element of surprise, the location will not be announced until noon the day of the event. The announcement will be made on Facebook (www.facebook.com/gqbofpeoriail), Instagram and Twitter.
“I have no idea what it’s gonna look like,” said event organizer Aric Enrike Faulkner. “Part of me thinks nobody is going to come, and part of me thinks there will be too many people.”
Faulkner, a Peoria native, experienced his first Guerilla Queer Bar when he lived in Burlington, Vt.
“I moved out there in 2017 for a job,” said Faulkner. “I missed the first one, but I went to the second one and it was incredible. I loved it. I kept going every month to all these different pop-ups and different places.”
Guerilla Queer Bar is designed to promote inclusivity, allowing people from the full spectrum of gender identification a chance to get to know each other.
“I just loved the concept of how a community that is not so commonly seen and accepted and valued is recognized and celebrated in public, even normalized, and Guerilla Queer Bar aims to do that,” said Faulkner. “It’s about people coming out of the shadows. It’s about, once a month, people show up as a community, hang out, live a normal life, queers and non-queers together.”
Although the alphabet community — a new term which includes all gender identifications not necessarily covered under the term LGBTQ — is more widely accepted than they were just 10 years ago, there is still segregation in most communities, said Faulkner.
“Guerilla Queer Bar is a statement about saying ‘no’ to all of that segregation, ‘no’ to all of that humiliation and degradation, the silencing, the marginalization, and it’s ‘yes’ to the beauty, the celebration, the recognition, the love and the power that we have, the potential,” he said.
Though Faulkner is arranging the first event, he hopes to form a committee to oversee the monthly pop-ups in the future. Organizers usually scope out a bar before choosing a location. Bar owners are typically not informed ahead of time, unless there are plans to hold a special event during the pop-up. Faulkner hopes to provide STI or HIV testing at some events in the future. A certain level of secrecy helps maintain the surprise while also discouraging any kind of organized protest, he said.
“If we coordinated further ahead of time, backlash could happen,” he said. “That would only feed into a system which pushes the alphabet community further into the shadows.”
Since it’s happening on Halloween, the first Guerilla Queer Bar Take Over has the potential to be very festive. Faulkner could not say if any of the area’s celebrated drag queens will be in attendance.
“It’s really important that folks arrive as who they are, and that they are themselves,” he said. “So that may inherently mean… that drag queens, kings and other folks working in the context of drag will be there. If they are there, they are totally welcome. If they are not, they are still welcome.”
Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.