Open Definitions winter event on Saturday is open to everyone, literally
Many times when an event is labeled as ‘open to everyone,’ what it REALLY means is ‘open to everyone who fits the understood definition of what’s acceptable.’
Because while nobody gets turned away, if you don’t meet these subtle, often hidden qualifications, you’ll quickly be shunned by almost everyone else attending — many of whom are straight, white, and cis-gendered.
On Saturday, however, whether you’re white, black, red, blue, green, gay, straight, bi, trans, lesbian, queer, questioning or intersexed, you’re invited to take part in the Winter Glitter Ball at Machinery Row.
The shindig gets started at 8 p.m. Admission is $5 and you must be at least 18 years old as it’s being held at a bar.
Tyson Habein, head organizer of the event under the umbrella of the Open Definition: Great Falls LGBTQ and Allies group, said this event, much like the others the group has put on thus far, is more than just something for the LGBTQ Community.
“The very idea of open definitions, as I’ve been explaining to people, is it’s something that steps toward creating a more complete community,” he said. “About the only individuals who are not invited to the group of the events are those who want to be bigoted or cause trouble and that’s it. Otherwise, come be a part of this great growth in the Great Falls community and jump on board.”
Habein said by taking that approach, they’ve seen more people of all walks of life show up to the first three events the group has held. He said while many of the folks have been part of the LGBT community, he attributes much of that to the fact that there aren’t many other events that carry that banner.
“In that regard, membership within the LGBT community is a common thread that runs through a big demographic of people regardless of anything else,” he said. “So, in that regard it’s a cool thing to see people come together, whether it be younger individuals in the under-20 teenage crowd, or folks all the way up past their 60s, as I think we had someone at the Halloween show in their late 60s. It’s cool we’ve got that big age span.”
Habein said that broad spectrum of guests also has extended to different income levels, races and genders.
“We all have that commonality in that we’re open to the idea of what this group stands for, which I think is a cool thing to find,” he said. “For example, I’ve seen people who make more money than I’ll ever see in my lifetime roll through these events, along with people who make minimum wage, or no money at all.”
The event itself will feature music from Joel Corda and the No Account, which we’ve written about here, along with performances from drag queens Lexi Tucker-Dixon and Kola Stomey. During their portion of the entertainment, they are asking members of the audience to dance with them for $1. All money raised will go toward ACLU Montana.
“We will be having a “Dance With Kola” segment with all proceeds being donated to charity,” Tucker-Dixon writes on the event’s Facebook page. “And no, not the Kola Stomey foundation but ACLU Montana for all their support and work for Marriage Equality! So, bring your dollar bills! It will be simple — if you want to dance with Kola during the number, you give her a dollar and if you want to cut in, it costs you a dollar. It’s simple and not only will you get to experience Kola’s company but you’ll be donating to a wonderful organization.”
The recommended dress code for the evening is “fancy,” which Habein said means whatever makes you feel fancy.
“If that’s a suit and a tie, great, if that’s a ball gown, great, even if that’s ass-less chaps like we saw at the Halloween show, more power to you,” he said. “But, we think it’s always fun, especially around the holidays to go to an event where you can get dressed up for. Plus, it seems like with Great Falls’ culture, the city as a whole seems to love an event that has a recommendation on the dress code.”
There will be free appetizers provided by the Westside Albertsons and prepared by local volunteers, also. After Hours Studios By Jen Downs will also have jewelry and artwork available for sale.
And while the events might seem less-than-serious to some – people dressing up in outrageous outfits, the reason the Open Definitions group exists is anything but.
Habein said the most important aspect of the group is that it serves as a safe place for people who there to help support others going through their own similar struggles.
“Any sort of increase in visibility and any sort of normalization for individuals who don’t fit into the very binary, standard traditionalist norm … is going to make those transitioning into who they truly are for any teen, or any young person, or whatever the case may be, that much easier for them,” Habein said.
Habein added that with the Facebook page, it’s made it that much easier for those connections to be made.
“I think that’s an important presence in the group because even if I haven’t had anyone personally come to me with that, I don’t think people would join that group if they weren’t a person who would say ‘yeah, I’ll help out where I can. As far as I can see it’s a super accepting, incredibly friendly group.”
Habein also pointed to Tonya and Angie Rolando, who were one of the couples who helped overturn the ban on same-sex marriage in Montana.
“I know Angie and Tonya, who recently had that horrible law struck down so everyone can marry, I know they have run into multiple people in different age groups talking to them saying things like ‘Thank you. You’ve been a huge inspiration,’ and they really have been.”