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The Denver Drag Initiative and Variety Awards, better known as DIVAS, are only being held for their second year, but already, they’re a huge hit. So much so that Jessica L’Whor, the well-known local queen who founded them, doesn’t even feel that they’re a reflection of her, but rather, a reflection of the entire community. Regardless of how you feel about Ms. L’Whor, she’s quick to point out, the DIVAS are about everyone getting recognition for what they do and standing together as a community.

We took a quick break from voting for the DIVAS awards and obsessing over who’s in the running on Facebook to chat with Jessica about the upcoming awards show and all the exciting things that are in the works.

What made you do the DIVAS last year and again this time around?
The plan is to do it every year. Colorado needed an outlet that supported the queer community in some sort of way of recognition. I know that there’s some other outlets that provide that same kind of recognition, but they don’t really involve the community, and they just kind of pop up out of nowhere. I think this provides an awards ceremony that everybody in the state of Colorado can get recognized for what they’re doing for the community. The goal is to highlight people that are working hard, the up-and-coming artist, and it also gives a platform for everybody to vote.

What are you most looking forward to about the actual awards? Can you give us any spoilers?
I’m mainly looking forward to the outcome of people. Last year, we expected to have around 200 to 250 people. We had over 450 people show up. And when you’re able to look out into the audience of everyone that came, you had people in the venue under one roof that you wouldn’t expect to see all in one place, just different venues and different bars and different bar owners, and you have different entertainers and you have burlesque and you have people that you don’t normally see come down from the Springs or from Fort Collins. I’m looking forward to seeing this plethora of people just coming together to celebrate each other and have a good time. I think the other thing that I’m most excited for is the after party. We throw this big party after the actual ceremony for people to come and enjoy a show.

Last year, it was basically just you, but this year, it feels like there are a lot of people helping out. How did more people get involved?
The first year doing it, I knew there would be a lot of issues, just like there are at any event for the first year. So, I wanted to take on a lot of that responsibility and a lot of that ‘blame,’ like if people were upset about a decision.

This year, we did an application process and built a committee of 10 people total. So, this committee of 10, queer people that applied and that wanted to be involved have been working behind the scenes either promoting on social media or website building or reaching out to venues or sponsorships or guest speakers and things like this. It’s been really amazing. It’s been really helpful. By the end, because of the workload, it’s also been really helpful to get a lot of different opinions and thoughts from a group of people on the direction that this should go or the name of the award. So, there’s been a lot of hard work from behind the scenes about the whole thing.

Is there anything else you definitely want to make it a point that we know?
Yeah, I think the biggest thing that I want to promote is that, regardless of how you feel about myself or somebody else or even Tracks where the event will be held or any kind of space, really think about the bigger picture of what this award ceremony does for people. This isn’t about saying, ‘Oh, I’m better than you, or ‘I’m more talented than you,’ or anything like that. It’s to highlight and really kind of get into that mindset of celebrating each other.

The biggest thing is, we should be able to come together to support our peers and the other people in our industry and recognize the hard work everyone’s put into this last year, and it has nothing to do with gender or genitals or your talent or anything. It’s just all about coming together.

Photos by Brian Degenfelder