Jayda Knight walked around the room in her sparkly floor-length dress and perfectly teased blonde hair and welcomed the more than 100 people who were there to celebrate with her.
Four female impersonators from Rhinestone Productions gathered at Capital Ale House for a sold-out charity drag show brunch to benefit the Shenandoah Valley’s chapter of Free Mom Hugs Virginia, a nonprofit compiled of allies and parents who push for affirmation and equality for the LGBTQ community.
“Seeing all of these people here — a sold-out brunch — tells me we are doing the right thing,” said queen Knight, CEO of Rhinestone Productions. “This pushes me to do more and be bigger.”
Portions of the ticket sales, Rhinestone sales and parts of the queens’ tips went toward the nonprofit.
Christine Jones, the team leader of the local chapter of Free Mom Hugs Virginia, said it’s been important to be a part of the nonprofit and work with the queens.
“We are coming together to give back, and it’s so rewarding to see people come here to support this community,” Jones said. “And I mean, if you look at the legislature and laws, it’s clear it’s our time. It’s our time to push for equality for everyone.”
Ashley Csady and Kayla Duncan attended the charity brunch for the first time.
“I went to the pride event in Harrisonburg this year for the first time and thought, ‘This is amazing,’ so when this event came up on my Facebook, I said I just had to go,” Csady said.
With Harrisonburg being a liberal city and being surrounded by conservative Rockingham County, Csady said, the city has done a great job accepting the LGBTQ community, but the county has room to grow.
“To me, the fact that we have to ask if we are improving and being more accepting of this community in the country means we have room to grow,” Duncan said. “The queens are working hard to make this become a norm, as it should be.”
Katie Shipp attended the brunch with her son, Tim Lakatos, and three other friends.
“We used to go to the Artful Dodger when it was still open and loved watching the queens there,” Shipp said. “It’s important to support the local community — all of the community.”
Lakatos said events like this are a great way to bring in all of the community for a good cause and bring unity with all types of people.
“The drag queens are bringing in the local community to make it better and I’m in support of that,” he said.
“Everyone is equal no matter what, and this charity brunch is one way of showing that and getting that word out,” Shipp said. “These drag queens are doing a great thing and I’m happy to have been able to be a part of helping this charity.”
Knight said Rhinestone Productions has done charity work for a number of places, including Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Harrisonburg Community Health Center, St. Jude, an elementary school in Waynesboro, Our Community Place and Anicira.
“I’m an ambitious dreamer for Harrisonburg, and I’m going to keep making sure I do even more,” Knight said. “I want to pull everyone together to continue to do and see good.”