Henry’s Upstairs and Grounded Coffee hosted the inaugural Eggs & Legs Drag Brunch this Sunday. The fabulous event series’ first installation featured local drag performers, a curated food and drink menu, and lots of laughter.
After a successful soft launch, the event will open to the public starting the first weekend of May.
It’s a dream come true for Mary Holt, owner of Henry’s and Grounded, who aims to transform the building into a safe and supportive gathering space for Lawrence’s LGBTQIA community, from top to bottom.
“I’ve wanted to host a drag brunch for years, before I even owned [these spaces],” Holt says. “The whole point of opening up Henry’s was to create a real Lawrence queer bar. And now that we have Grounded too, we’re really making space for that and building a beautiful community.”
Attendees eased in with a brunch buffet catered by Two Bears Bakery. The spread offered a range of sweet and savory dishes, including home-baked goods like cheddar-chive scones and lemon-poppyseed muffins, that could be paired with coffee or cocktails.
Each table came with a mini-flyer that laid down the ground rules: Consent is sexy, tip your entertainers, respect the queens, and always remember that Black and trans lives matter.
“This show is about queer artistry and expression, and specifically Black excellence,” says Ky Reid, events coordinator for Henry’s. “We recognize that gender identities are there to have fun with, and that everybody is welcome in our spaces.”
This year, more than a dozen states — including Kansas — have pushed legislation to restrict drag shows. Tennessee is the only state that has passed a bill banning drag shows, but it was temporarily blocked by a federal judge last week before it was set to take effect.
“Drag queens have been described as ‘the Marines of the queer community,’” Reid says. “We don’t back down and we fight for what we need and we will always show up, ready at hand. There’s been girls — in and out of drag — fighting for these rights for years and years. And I don’t think that stops today.”
Events like this can be a radical display of acceptance and love for a community that has long been discriminated against. And at its core, Holt believes it comes down to just having fun together.
“This is a town of artists, and drag is art. It’s wonderful that they can provide so much happiness to people,” she says.
The Eggs & Legs docket also featured local performers Jello Tin Shot and Blanch DuBone, who donned a fuzzy Sesame Street-inspired costume and lip synced to an EDM remix of Jolene by Dolly Parton, respectively.
Many pedestrians walked past Grounded Coffee on that sunny Sunday, and some peered in to enjoy the scene: a dining room full of enthusiastic guests, who alternated between clapping, singing, shouting affirmations, and handing dollar bills to 6-foot-tall queens who weren’t afraid of jumping up on the bar to dance.
Eggs & Legs is just the latest addition to Henry’s and Grounded Coffee’s programming. Their schedule is full of inclusive community events, such as trivia nights; Bimbo Bingo; art nights hosted by Moon Balloon Art Collective; and Pony, a queer dance party held the last Saturday of every month.
The staff is looking forward to expanding its offerings with popups and other connections with Lawrence-based initiatives and businesses. This includes a growing partnership with Lawrence PRIDE.
“We’ve been working with Lawrence PRIDE a lot lately, and with Pride Month coming up in June, we’ll announce more details on big events happening on our block,” Reid says.
Starting May 7, Grounded will open its doors for back-to-back shows every other Sunday: one at noon, and a “Happy Hour” show at 3 p.m. The later show is designed to be accessible for service industry workers, such as servers and bartenders who may be late to rise after working weekend closing shifts.
“It’s important for Lawrence to have events like this because it’s just good, wholesome fun,” Holt says. “This community is great, so I want to continue with this and be the best ally I can be. I’m excited to see where it goes from here.”
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Jordan Winter (she/her), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a 2019 KU grad with degrees in journalism and political science.