Treasure Coast LGBT community responds to tragedy with benefit

Drag queen Shelita Taylor
Drag queen Shelita Taylor Shelita Taylor

At Tattle Tails, the LGBT club just down the road from Omar Mateen's apartment, longtime performers at Pulse will get back on stage one week after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

The club, a staple of the Treasure Coast LGBT scene, will host OutLOUD for Orlando, a benefit concert for Pulse victims hosted by drag queen Shelita Taylor.

“I lost friends in the attack,” Taylor said. “I had friends who survived and no longer have a place to work. It could have been us, but he just chose not to do it here.”

Taylor, 32, is the show director at Tattle Tails and got his inspiration for performing drag at Pulse, when he attended his first show at 19.

“I started at a local club in Coco Beach and I would go get my inspiration from there [Pulse] and bring it back beachside,” Taylor said.

The people who say they aren’t scared, they are scared.

Miss T., performer

Over 20 performers will take part in OutLOUD, including drag queens, singers and spoken word artists.

“It’s going to be a political statement,” Taylor said. “A lot of drag performers tend to express our thoughts through performances. Definitely the creative juices are flowing.”

There will be lots of rainbow costumes and wigs, according to Taylor, along with somber moments of remembrance. One of the performers on Saturday night will sing the Wynonna Judd song You are Loved as an emotional tribute to the victims of Sunday’s attack.

“My song is dedicated for my friends that passed away and is going to be very traumatic,” said Miss T., a trans woman who does drag in the community. “The people who say they aren’t scared, they are scared.”

Miss T. was one of the first performers at Pulse who established Latin night, the themed event on the night of the Orlando attack.

“I can only imagine all of my friends running back to the dressing room and leaving through the AC vent,” Miss T. said.

Security will be increased for Saturday night’s show and all attendees will be patted down.

“This isn’t normal for LGBT nightclubs,” Taylor said. “I can’t remember the last time I had to be patted down. It’s a little awkward to have to do that and we don’t want that image.”

Taylor added that the patdowns are necessary to make sure everyone feels safe and the sheriff’s office will have a presence outside Tattle Tails.

Neither Taylor or Miss. T. recall seeing Mateen when they performed at Pulse or in Port St. Lucie, but many of their friends claimed to have seen him. He never appeared at Tattle Tails, according to Taylor.

“Maybe since we are such a tight-knit community, he was afraid of being recognized, since he lived here,” Taylor said.

Multiple corporate sponsors, including Starbucks and Olive Garden, have donated to Saturday’s performance, which starts at 10 p.m.

Tattle Tails is at 8283 S Federal Hwy., Port St Lucie