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PRIDE MONTH: Behind the scenes of Drag Queen Bingo in Fort Myers

Alyssa Lemay
Posted at 5:31 PM, Jun 21, 2024

It's been around for nearly 20 years for a reason - many people love Drag Queen Bingo in our area.

That's why in considering who I wanted to spotlight for FOX 4's Pride Month Series - the decision was almost immediate.

I have been to Drag Queen Bingo, and always admired that it is a unique event in our community.

However, I wanted to discover the person behind the makeup.

After all these years, I actually realized I did not know anything about Alyssa Lemay.

So, Andy Spaulding let me come to his house.

This is probably the interview that's made me laugh the most in my entire career (and many of you have made me laugh!).

Andy Spaulding will make you laugh.

It turns out Andy's from Ohio.

He's a music major who moved to our area following an invitation from a friend.

He worked odd jobs - which left room for an interest in drag performance on the side.

"It just kind of became my shtick."

Alyssa Lemay

A shtick that's stuck for almost 20 years in our area.

But while Andy describes Southwest Floridians as mostly welcoming to people of the LGBTQ+ community, he says the last year has challenged that perspective - saying that many people have become cautious.

"The community's become very protective."

In an age of the Parental Rights in Education Law - what some people call 'Don't Say Gay' - we've heard many clear thoughts on the LGBTQ+ community and on drag performances in our state.

I asked Andy about that.

"They say they don't want to see a man in a skirt. That's a direct quote," I probed.

"That's the joke," he tells me.

“No one’s trying to convert anyone to anything. Other than being a little happier in life."

That discussion of happiness also made me wonder.

"How do you identify?," I asked.

He paused.

"Paid," he told me, and we both roared in laughter.

But seriously, Andy identifies as gay.

“I was in elementary school liking boys.”

But he didn't come out until his early 20's.

He was nervous, he tells me.

His parents, however, were underwhelmed.

“My dad was like ‘ya we know. Thanks for catching up'."

Our conversation circled back to the last year, where he tells me many drag queens took the notion of protection seriously.

“Last year a bunch of us drag queens went and got our concealed weapons permit. We were like we better know what we’re doing 'cause people are crazy.”

However, that hasn't stopped him from performing.

Andy's pronouns are he/him.

But we were there as he applied his makeup and clothing - transforming into Alyssa Lemay.

Her pronouns are she/her.

Alyssa creates her clothing - telling me her grandmother taught her how to sew.

Alyssa Lemay

She showcases her clothing and talents at The Standard in Downtown Fort Myers every Thursday night for Drag Queen Bingo. A portion of the proceeds from the event help to support a local charity.

But you can also find Alyssa at brunch events on Sunday at The Standard and throughout Southwest Florida - helping to raise money for organizations and performing at events.