Drag for Life Took Center Stage at Avogadro’s Number with Suicide Prevention Theme

Drag Performer Ophelia Peaches.

Jonson Kuhn |.North Forty News

Drag for Life (Talking About Suicide Doesn’t Have to be a Drag but it Can be a Drag Show) was a free event hosted on Sunday, April 3 at Avogadro’s Number in Fort Collins.  It featured performers Krisa Conna, Derri Air, Opehlia Peaches, and legendary Alanna Filipina, who is well known as Fort Collins’ longest-running drag performer.  There were a number of collaborating organizations that came together to put the event on, one, in particular, was The Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The following day on Monday, April 4, there was a QPR suicide intervention training held at the Fort Collins Donut Company that was intentionally inclusive for young adults, ages 18-24, as this particular demographic has proven to need a little more attention around such sensitive issues.

FOCO Drag Queen Royalty Alanna Filipina. Photos courtesy of SPLASH Youth.
Drag Performer Krisa Gonna. Photos courtesy of SPLASH Youth.

“From 2019 to 2020 the overall suicide rate in Larimer county decreased except for the age range 18 to 24; in that age range suicide rates actually increased within Larimer county, so we as a workgroup were sort of looking at that and became aware that a lot of our programming didn’t necessarily reach that young adult older youth age range.  We started having conversations about it and brainstorming on how to reach this population better and get some of these resources to them.  Within that sort of brainstorming way, a magical thing happens when you’re collaborating, we kind of stumbled upon the idea of, ‘oh, what if we do a drag show?’ We just wanted to bring them a fun event and entertainment and weave in the messaging and resources that we want to get them connected to,” said Silen Wellington, LGBTQ+ Outreach Coordinator for Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County.

The Alliance for Suicide Prevention offers QPR training to community groups, organizations, and businesses in Larimer County. Always free and 60-90 minutes long, QPR can be delivered virtually or in person. Once attended, participants receive a 2-year certification that holds the same weight as a CPR certification, offering 1 CEU.  Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives.

QPR suicide intervention training stands for Question, Persuade, Refer and those are the three steps recommended to be taken in order to help someone who may be considering suicide. QPR is the most widely taught evidence-based suicide prevention gatekeeper training in the world.

QPR is a practical and empowering course that teaches what you need to know to prevent suicide in your personal and professional life. QPR teaches how to ask someone if they are considering suicide, how to connect someone to appropriate resources, how to get help for yourself, the common causes of suicidal behavior or emotional distress, the warning signs and risk factors for suicide, as well as the myths and facts of suicide.

The show was considered a tremendous success with a much larger than expected turnout, which has sparked plans and intentions of doing more similar events in the future, though no specific details have been established for the immediate moment.

Drag for Life Performers and Organizers. Photos courtesy of SPLASH Youth.
Drag for Life Performers. Photos courtesy of SPLASH Youth.

“We don’t know exactly what another event will look like yet but Avo’s has definitely expressed interest in hosting something ongoing[…]Anytime we can do visibility around suicide or self-harm prevention we certainly want to do it,” said Kimberly Chambers, Executive Director for SPLASH Youth of Northern Colorado.

The show was hosted by Alanna Filipina along with Silen Wellington, who had a big hand in organizing and producing the actual layout and setlist.  In addition to the Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the event was also brought to the community by the LGBTQ+ Workgroup Partners of Imagine Zero, SPLASH LGBTQIA+ Youth, Connections, and NoCoSafeSpace, as well as sponsored in-kind by Avogadro’s Number and the Fort Collins Donut Company.

“Alanna Filipina is one of our oldest, eldest performers that’s still local in Colorado.  I think that roughly ten years or so is how long she’s been performing in Fort Collins,” said Kimberly.

“We really just recruited performers through our own personal networks and a handful of our performers expressed to me how needed they felt the space was, even within their own stories around this, they were happy that they could help shed some light on these conversations for their own communities[…]given the success of this event, we’re very interested in continuing,” Silen added.

For more specific information regarding the organizations who closely collaborated to create this event, you’re asked to please visit any of the following websites to share:

Websites regarding ongoing support in the community around suicidality and mental health are listed here, as well.

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