Here's how some of Regina’s LGBT+ community is supporting a local youth housing initiative
REGINA -- Members of Regina’s LBGT+ community are dedicated to helping Lulu’s Lodge, a housing program offering homeless youth a place to stay and succeed.
Lulu’s Lodge launched two years ago. Employees of the John Howard Society noticed a void in housing programming for LGBT+ youth, so they started the initiative to offer those youth a place to turn to.
“We had a number of clients come through the John Howard Society that identified as LGBTQ and they were struggling to find housing,” Tanna Young, the director of social programs with Lulu’s Lodge, said. “Whether the landlords were homophobic or transphobic, or it was just difficult for them to find housing.”
She said a lot of LGBT+ youth also lose housing due to their families not accepting them.
The support they receive from Lulu’s Lodge doesn’t only include a place to stay. There is also an overnight mentor, case workers and a sense of community.
“A lot of LGBTQ youth that are coming in there, they don’t have a community or they don’t know what supports they have in their community. So we offer that sense of community and it’s created a family for them,” Young said.
SWEET AND STICKY SHOW
Lulu’s Lodge is independently run and receives no government funding, so fundraising within the community is what helps it stay afloat.
The Sweet and Sticky Show is a drag show hosted by drag queens Flo Mingo and Katy Hairy. It launched around the same time as Lulu’s Lodge opened. Proceeds from the monthly show go to Lulu’s.
“As soon as I found out what they were doing for the youth and that they were going to be providing a home for the LGBTQ2S+ youth, I decided at that time that I needed to focus my efforts on that and help raise money,” Flo Mingo said.
It’s an initiative that hits close to Flo Mingo, who came out as a gay man at age 34.
“I knew with my family and the community that I grew up in, I wouldn’t be able to live my true authentic life,” he said. “But I finally decided at the age of 34 it was time to come out of the closet and live my true life.”
At the time he was married to a woman with children.
He said overall, the coming out experience went well. But not everyone in his life was accepting of his decision.
“My ex-wife supports me. My kids support me. I have an amazing family in my community,” Flo Mingo said. “Unfortunately, when I told my family, my parents, they no longer wanted me part of their life.”
He said knowing that young people go through this same experience is why he’s so motivated to helping Lulu’s Lodge.
“I can handle it as an adult. But being 13, 12 or 10, and being told that you no longer have a home to go to, that’s something a child should never have to go through,” he said. “It’s so important to me that these kids know they are loved and they are supported.”
Co-host Katy Hairy also felt a connection to Lulu’s Lodge, saying it’s very dear to her heart.
“Growing up as a queer youth in a northern community, it’s always hard finding somewhere to fit in and somewhere safe. It’s important for youth to have that I think,” she said.
The two organizers felt a drag show would be a great way to have some fun, perform and also help out.
“We decided that Regina needed another drag show, and why not have a drag show with a good cause?” Katy Hairy said.
There have been 17 Sweet and Sticky shows so far and each show raises about $1,500 for Lulu’s Lodge. The next show will take place on Nov. 22 at The Cure Kitchen + Bar.
DRAG DELIVERIES YQR
In September Drag Deliveries YQR was launched as another way to raise money for Lulu’s Lodge.
The program is a partnership between King’s Court Music Service and Donna’s Homestyle Cooking, delivering ordered meals to Regina residents. The meals are delivered by drag queens and kings, who perform one song from a safe physical distance.
Flo Mingo is also involved with that program.
“$10 from every meal goes towards Lulu’s Lodge,” Flo Mingo said. “It’s another great way to support and have a little bit of fun.”
It’s also a way to get more people more comfortable with drag.
“There’s always been that stigma around drag and it’s nothing to be scared of. We’re just out there to entertain. We’re artists, we want to have some fun. If we can raise money doing that, then it’s absolutely amazing.”
Jason Hubbs, the owner of King’s Court Music Service and the creator of Drag Deliveries YQR, said the program is on a brief hiatus as they work on expanding and making some changes.
“We are working on delivering on a different day of the week,” he said. “This will allow us to accommodate more deliveries and more involvement from additional drag queens who couldn’t partake because of work schedules on Thursday.”
He said they are also looking at some other food delivery options, which will include engagement parties and other small gatherings.
The public can help Lulu’s Lodge in other ways as well. Young said they are always looking for more volunteers, and monetary donations can be made online.