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spotlight


by kevin perry Crowning


he rainbow flag is a powerful symbol, representing the spectrum of colors that comprise visible light, and together, they illuminate a brighter tomorrow for LBGTQ+ individuals. But we are just that: individuals. Our paths often diverge, signifying different tracts of the


queer experience. Much like the multi-hued stripes on the rainbow flag, we are vibrantly unique yet sometimes at odds. So, how do you depict diversity within the ranks of our mercurial gay family?


We posed this question to Mark Saxenmeyer, writer, director and producer of the fabulously frank documentary The Queens, made by The Reporters Inc. nonprofit journalistic production house. “I did not set out to have an agenda with this film,” Saxenmeyer said. “I didn’t set out to persuade people one way or the other. We just let our cameras roll and try to capture as much honesty about what this is, and then present it.” The film charts the meteoric rise of Miss Continental, a wonderfully inclusive pageant with a dazzling history, and it began where all great things do: at a gay bar.


“I thought maybe we should do a documentary about The Baton, because


it’s a Chicago institution, it’s very iconic. It opened in 1969,” Saxenmeyer said. “And its owner, Jim Flint, is rather legendary in the LGBTQ+ community in Chicago. So that was our original intent. But then someone said, ‘Jim owns Miss Continental too.’ And I’d heard of Miss Continental, but … not only was I not into drag, but I wasn’t into like beauty pageants. And I always thought of Miss America and just, I thought they were old fashioned and kind of passé, but someone said, ‘No, no, you have to see Miss Continental because it puts those traditional straight heteronormative pageants to shame.’ And they do.” In addition to being a masterful filmmaker, Saxenmeyer is a master of understatement. The Queens features kaleidoscopic fanfare, shimmering across the stage and directly into your gayest fantasies. “I was just seriously blown away by the talent, the productions, the choreog-


raphy, the backup dancers, the hair, the makeup, the glamour, the illusion, the spectacle of all. It was like so entertaining!” Saxenmeyer said with enthusiasm.


14 ragemonthly.com | September 2020


Achievements T


THE QUEENS DOCUMENTARY EXPLORES THE INTERSECTION BETWEEN SUBCULTURE AND SISTERHOOD


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