The LGBTQIA+ community in Tokyo might not be the biggest in the world, but it is certainly dynamic and there are many things happening within the community. One of the latest party spaces on the scene is QLOVE.
👉 Pick up your tickets for QLOVE: Valentine’s Debut 💖
What to Expect From the Valentine’s Show
I interviewed founders Chloe and Reyna to find out more about QLOVE and their vision for QLOVE ahead of their first show this month.
QLOVE founders Chloe (L) and Reyna (R)
What inspired you to start QLOVE?
QLOVE has always been a discussion for us. We both knew that we wanted to create a fresh, sexy, queer space as we both were coming from large cities that had a variety of queer parties. The spaces that are available in London and Seattle have influenced us greatly.
Many people may not be too familiar with the art of drag. Can you tell me more about the art and what it means to you?
Chloe: Drag is a fantasy. Working closely with Drag Performers I’ve gained a new level of respect; a lot of effort goes into the makeup and performances. I myself have never been in drag, but want to try someday.
Reyna: I agree with Chloe. Drag is a fantasy. It is another form of creativity and artistic expression. As a visual artist, I have the utmost respect for the art of Drag. Watching drag queens over the years and listening to them express themselves in comedic ways have given me more confidence to express myself too.
Can you tell me what to expect from the first show?
QLOVE is an inclusive party centering on the LGBTQIA+ community. We aim to hold a safe space for members within the community, showcase a variety of creatives and raise money for Pride House Legacy, Tokyo. In the future, we want to continue holding safe spaces whilst making a more global impact.
We expect there to be a lot of dancing, jaw-dropping performances, prizes, and giveaways. More importantly, bringing people together to network and build lasting relationships.
Behind the Scenes
We know for every event, there are endless checklists and schedules to ensure the event runs smoothly.
Can you tell me about the performers? How did you meet them? Did you approach them or vice versa?
Our talent ranges from all backgrounds. Most of them we reached out through social media and had never met in person however they believed in our vision! Some we had met prior to planning and had kept in contact.
What goes into planning a show? Is it a logistical challenge to find venues and so on?
So, we want to clarify that QLOVE isn’t a drag show but is a party space centering on the LGBTQIA + community as well as POC and marginalized groups. This is something we feel is needed in the Tokyo party scene. Planning this event has been a challenge for both of us. We are learning as we go. Since COVID, finding a venue space has become even more difficult. A lot of venues weren’t on board with our mission or didn’t fit our vision.
Finally, we found The Hive Jinnan in Shibuya. This meant we could move forward in planning QLOVE: Valentines Debut. We also had help from Fruits in Suits’ Executive Director, Loren Fykes. He was able to offer advice and was our first sponsor for this event. There are a lot of details to cover for an event of this scale but we have managed this as a team and with the help of so many people. We are truly grateful.
👉 Pick up your tickets for QLOVE: Valentine’s Debut 💖
About Chloe and Reyna
More on the powerhouses behind QLOVE
Can you tell me a bit about yourselves? Also, what brought you to Japan?
Chloe: I was born and raised in London, UK. I am a third-generation immigrant from Jamaica. Growing up I was encouraged to pursue all things creative; from dance, art, to writing. I truly was blessed to have parents that always wanted me to explore my creativity. At university, I studied Creative writing and publishing. Once I graduated, I was waitressing, but I was becoming frustrated because this wasn’t my desired career path. I searched for jobs for a while and came across an opportunity to work in Japan. This was a way for me to learn about a new culture, figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and escape London and here I am nearly 5 years later.
Reyna: I was born in St. Louis Missouri, but after I was born my father was deported back to Mexico. (I am half Mexican and half white) Soon after my family was reunited we moved to Seattle Washington because it was one of the few cities that offered sanctuary to split families at the time. Growing up in Seattle, I was surrounded by a lot of “liberal/progressive” thinking and ideologies. I grew up in a mixed artistic household with both of my parents being artists, heavy metal enthusiasts, and gardeners. I went on to study at the University of Washington, earning my degree in geography. Shortly after graduating, I ran away to Japan with a mission to explore the other side of the world and push myself to new boundaries.
Can you talk a little about your connection to the LGBTQIA+ community in Tokyo?
Chloe: I am a Black, queer womxn living in Japan. I’m quite sociable so I was naturally drawn to the LGBTQIA+ community in Tokyo. You build really strong connections with people, especially being an expat. In Japan the scene is quite subdued in comparison to England but I appreciate the LGBTQIA+ community that much more as spaces are limited.
Reyna: Well, I am a queer femme so I would go out to Nichome (二丁目) to meet other people like me. So that was how I met other people in the community. But to be honest, I felt like I was just dipping my toes into the LGBTQIA+ community here in Japan. Back home, I would go to all the queer parties. I followed all of the Facebook and Instagram accounts to stay connected. It is very reassuring to know there is a community here, but I felt like I had to go searching for it, which was new to me.
Want to experience QLOVE’s first show? 👉 Pick up your tickets for QLOVE: Valentine’s Debut here 💖