For the past decade, Jadein Black has been the entertainment director for Ann Arbor Pride. With the upcoming Ann Arbor pride taking place on August 5th, Black wants to use this year to highlight under-represented drag performers across Michigan.
One of Ypsilanti’s most prominent drag queens, Black has made an impact on the Ann Arbor area drag scene in many aspects. Having performed for the better half of 15 years, the former teacher hosts entertaining events, participates in charity events, and helps organize the yearly Ann Arbor Pride.
One notable accomplishment is founding the Michigan drag troupe Boylesque, which raises money for local charities through their shows.
“Boylesque drag group provides positivity and enrichment in communities,” Black said. “We’re building up Ypsilanti and the whole state of Michigan with nonprofit fundraising, charity work and education awareness.”
Based in Ypsilanti, Boylesque hosts nonprofit fundraising events such as drag bingo, birthday parties, divorce parties and community-based events. Their charitable contributions include work for Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels, The Jim Toy Community Center, children’s hospitals and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Having performed across several countries, Black states the goals for the group are to provide more visibility to the drag scene and a bright outlook to the world.
“I have to be multitasking at all times to spread positivity and put effort into what’s needed in this world,” Black said. “The main goal is to help keep this world a better place.”
Along with providing drag visibility through her work at Boylesque, Black is also focuses on providing visibility to the drag scene through her work with the yearly Ann Arbor pride event hosted by the Jim Toy Community Center.
Black said she openly searches to offer opportunities to other drag performers that have not performed at the event, and this year is no different.
“I think that’s very important. there might be drag performers that are just starting, and do not have those opportunities,” Black said. “What we want for Ann Arbor pride is a list of individuals that entertain in our area and represent us. We want diversity along with the pride sets.”
Last year’s pride event was the event’s first in-person Pride in two years. The small-scale festival featured choir performances and was headlined by Drag queen Aja Lebeija.
Fans of Pride can expect a larger-scale event, as this year’s event will be located directly on Ann Arbor’s downtown Main Street.
This year’s event will be much larger than its 2022 predecessor, which purposefully settled for a smaller atmosphere at Ann Arbor’s Wheeler Park.
“In 2021 we still went virtual from the Eagle Crest Marriott in Ypsilanti because we wanted to keep people safe,” Black said. “Last year was the start of a little nibble to coming back in person; we didn’t know how it was going to be. However, this year, we set our standards much higher.”
However, Black said that this year’s pride is not about the performers but about focusing on the spirit of pride. She states that anyone in attendance should look forward to a celebration of togetherness.
“This year is more important than ever since the lgbtqa+ is targeted,” Back said. “We must stand together and support our community.”
Antonio Cooper is a freelance journalist from Detroit, Michigan. His coverage of music festivals and interviews with local celebrities appeared in The E-Current Magazine, The Detroit Metro Times, XXL Magazine, RichMagDigital, The Ann Arbor Observer, and Pop Magazine.