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Grad student's final project marks Pride Month with queer artists' showcase

'NQRML' to highlight 8 local performers

June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and an Arizona State University graduate student has put together a virtual showcase of local queer artists to commemorate the month.

Dienae Hunter, a graduate student in the Herberger Institute’s Creative Enterprise and Cultural Leadership program, created “NQRMAL” as their final project to coincide with Pride Month.

Dienae Hunter

The show, which will be livestreamed on Facebook on Friday, June 19, includes eight local performers and is intended to highlight a variety of art forms, said Hunter, who curated the lineup with two performing artists who will emcee the show — Ty Muhammad and Emily Winkler.

“I wanted to make the sure the lineup represented a wide range of creative practices, so I had them reach out to their networks,” Hunter said.

“I wanted to gather a bunch of people I think are talented and show what they’re best at.”

The show will include Sean Avery, who integrates hip-hop, music, poetry and theater to explore black masculinity, as well as drag entertainers Quinnetta Rose, Frankie Fahrenheit and Alexander Stryke, burlesque artist Charlie Sharp, choreographer and dancer Kyara Nycole, and theater artist Sofia Fencken. There also will be a "surprise" performer.

Hunter originally began planning the show before the COVID-19 pandemic hit with the intention of scheduling it during Pride Month. Once they realized that the show could not be performed live, they shifted to a virtual format, which allowed the artists to expand the scope of their performances.

“There was a little bit of scrambling, but now it’s giving them a chance to try something new, like video editing and mixed media, which they couldn’t do if it was a regular, in-person live show,” they said.

Sean Avery

Hunter earned bachelor’s degrees in dance and environmental studies from ASU in 2018, and had been part of the Phoenix-area dance community since high school. Coming out as gay in their senior year of college refocused and energized Hunter to stay in the arts as a career path through a master’s degree in the Creative Enterprise and Cultural Leadership program. Currently they are a staff member at [nueBOX], a Valley based nonprofit that supports emerging artists, and would like to be a curator of live shows.

 “I’ve learned that it’s a weird time to be in the performing arts when we can’t gather in person, and how special an experience it is to go to a show in person,” Hunter said.

“I’ve also learned how important it is to expand your network of people because the artists we chose are people I’ve never met or seen in person but are so talented and I’m so excited to show them.”

“NQRML” will be streamed from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 19, on Facebook Live. The show is free but will accept donations to benefit two groups: Black People’s Justice Fund - Metro Phoenix, and Feed Queer Families Phoenix.

marybeth.faller@asu.edu