Harper Bishop is an extraordinary force of local activism in progressive queer issues as well as economic justice. They served on the board of the Pride Center of WNY from 2010-2014, where they took on the role of lead organizer of the Buffalo Dyke March at a time when event organizers were considering dropping the March from the Pride lineup altogether. They brought together a diverse body of stakeholders who have continued to organize the March to this day. They also served as a liaison to city officials during the beginning of the Evergreen Lofts project.
Harper founded the REEL Queer Film Series a few years ago, which screens a queer film every few months and facilitates a panel discussion by local queers and experts after the film. The highly successful series began at Hallwalls and is now headquartered at Dreamland. They founded and are currently active in Queers for Racial Justice, an activist group dedicated to an intersectional movement grounded in the belief that everyone should be able to live out their truth without fear of retaliation. It is committed to centering the experience of those most impacted by state-sanctioned violence and white supremacy. The group has canvassed the local queer bars to discuss how the queer community can take a stand for racial justice. The group has also participated in high visibility protests, such as taking a knee during the national anthem to support 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has consistently called into question the state's treatment of communities of color. Most recently, the group co-organized an action at the Buffalo Board of Education that halted the meeting to call for the removal of Carl Paladino.
Since returning home to Buffalo from Washington, D.C., in 2009, Harper has advocated for a new economy that puts people first and protects the environment. Their work is currently focused on equitable development in the Fruit Belt through the establishment of a community land trust to fight gentrification and displacement caused by the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Harper is currently the economic and climate justice coordinator at Open Buffalo. They came to the position in 2016 with over a decade's worth of non-profit management experience and progressive policy expertise. Harper is a 2013-2014 BALLE Local Economy Fellow for their efforts to champion Rust Belt localism. In addition to this work, Harper is a founder of Cooperation Buffalo, a worker cooperative development center, and former board chair of Assembly House 150, an experimental art and architecture space that enhances the sense of wonder in everyday surroundings. Harper is married, and lives with their partner on Buffalo's West Side.
Kevin Van Wagner, aka Jayme Coxx
Jayme Coxx is one of the best-known drag performers in Buffalo. During her almost 15-year career as a female illusionist, she has raised countless dollars for a dozen local LGBT charities and become a role model for both burgeoning drag performers and the general LGBT college student community locally. Her most popular claim to fame is likely her production of “Trailer Park Tuesdays” at Buddies II, which spawned her iconic reputation for drag parody. For seven years, she produced and hosted the biannual competition College Warz at Club Marcella, a partnership with local college GSAs to give interested students their first taste at the stage. The competition doubled as a “Star Search” that gave way to the careers of some of today’s favorite performers in the community. In addition, she’s the only performer who has been able to successfully produce a monthly drag king show for the community in years: Boy Toyz at Adonia’s.
Jayme has been an active member of the Imperial Court of Buffalo for almost a decade. She served as Empress to Reign 25, which raised more than $25,000 for local LGBT charities. Even prior to her membership with the Court, Jayme was a regular fundraiser for the organization, and she continues to be. Jayme has been a bartender throughout her time in Buffalo, including at Club Marcella, Underground, Adonia’s and Buddies II. She is a presenter and performer at every year’s GSA conference and regularly volunteers for organizations such as Evergreen Health Services, Pride Center of Western New York and Erie County Department of Health.
Buffalo Frontrunners/Frontwalkers, founded in 1990, is a social exercise club with more than 80 LGBT members. Participants meet twice a week to make the 1.8-mile trek around Ring Road in Delaware Park; afterwards, they meet at one of several local restaurants for a bite to eat. People of all ages are welcome, but as the club has aged, so has its core membership. Members participate in many local races and group activities including movie nights, coffee nights, and dining out. Volunteer activities include: help for local races, ushering for the Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus, marching in both the Buffalo and Toronto Pride Parades, and helping with the annual Buffalo Pride festivities. Charitable activities include collecting for Buffalo City Mission.