By Jeremy Rodriguez
For the first time since 2019, galaei will return with its DARLA award ceremony. The Dec. 16 event — which stands for the David Acosta Revolutionary Leadership Awards, named after galaei’s founder — will take place at Voyeur and will honor 13 community members and one collective. Galaei Executive Director Tyrell Brown said that due to the pandemic and a few leadership changes at galaei over the years, the organization did not have the capacity to produce DARLA. However, Brown said galaei had a “renewed idea about how we wanted to celebrate the community” this year.
Drag performer Icon Ebony Fierce will host the event, which will feature performances by Luna Thee Jawnette, Allyria Everlasting, Harley Honey, Dalyla Mizani Cristal, DDA and Mx OURfest Royale Princex Aimis.
Brown said this year’s awardees include a “good mix” of individuals. This includes galaei volunteers, collaborators and former employees as well as performers, students and other professionals. Brown said they are looking forward to the awardees “walk[ing] away feeling really seen and celebrated for the work that they put in this year.”
“But more than that, I think it’s also celebrating just exactly who they are, separated from their labor,” Brown said. “For queer, trans, Black and Brown people — oftentimes, we’re only seeing it through the lens of what we provide in our labor. And this is also a way of saying to them ‘we do appreciate you for just exactly who you are, and showing up in community outside of what you did to contribute to our organization, or to any other.’”
The awardees for this year’s DARLA include:
Proceeds from DARLA will go toward galaei and the goal is to raise $30,000, Brown said. These funds will go toward the community galaei serves, which is QTBIPOC individuals. However, galaei is also trying to keep costs low for attendees. Brown noted how the sponsors for DARLA — including the “Philly Keep on Loving” initiative from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Woody’s, Voyeur, Guard Closet and Unlimited Orange — allows galaei to keep this event at a low cost for those community members who may not be able to attend otherwise.
“[For] the entire LGBTQ community — but particularly for queer and trans Black and Brown people, going to an event like this is something that isn’t in our wheelhouse,” Brown said. “It makes sure that we’re bringing people in and showing people that they can enjoy themselves. So we want to raise some money, but [we] also want to make sure that we’re taking care of and giving people the opportunity to show up and have a good time. DARLA will be held 6:30-10 p.m. Dec. 16 at Voyeur, 1223 St. James St. Tickets are on a sliding scale of $50-$100 but no one will be turned away due to lack of funds. Visit darla.eventbrite.com to purchase tickets or to donate.