June is National Pride Month, and the Downtown Long Beach Alliance is proud to salute one of our city’s greatest cheerleaders and philanthropists – Jewels, who moved to Long Beach from a tiny town 25 years ago, found a diverse and inclusive community, and ended up becoming the first-ever drag queen to be presented with Long Beach’s Key to the City.
“In Long Beach, I found a community that welcomed everyone from every walk of life,” said Jewels. “It broadened my horizons and allowed me to create this drag persona, and in doing that, I connected with some wonderful drag artists who were already in town. I figured out that the best way to give back as a young drag queen with no money was to volunteer. I started immediately, and continue to this day.”
Long Beach’s LGBTQ Center was a big help for Jewels as a young queer person. She remains a huge supporter of The Center’s efforts, and is also a long-time supporter of the CARE Center at St. Mary Medical Center. “I support any positive cause I can find all over this beautiful city,” she said.
Jewels was too young to perform in gay bars in her early Long Beach years, so she started doing shows at the original Hamburger Mary’s on the eastern edge of Downtown. A diner that opened in San Francisco in the early ’70s, Hamburger Mary’s had expanded to multiple locations, including Long Beach. Mary’s moved to 330 Pine Avenue in 2013. It is now the high-energy club that lights up the block six nights a week. .
Jewels eventually became Entertainment Director for Hamburger Mary’s. In due course, she became Entertainment Director for Hamburger Mary’s International, a franchise corporation. “The beautiful success we’ve had at Hamburger Mary’s in Downtown Long Beach has been replicated at locations across the country,” said Jewels.
Her favorite part of using her drag art form is entertaining “not just at packed Drag Brunches on weekends at Hamburger Mary’s, but at locations throughout Downtown,” she said, pointing out that she has hosted Mardi Gras festivities at Shoreline Village, been Master of Ceremonies at Long Beach’s annual Pride Parade, and has done the New Year’s Eve countdown at the Aquarium, with a giant disco ball coming down and a shark tank behind her.
National Pride Month started in the early ’70s, in the wake of New York City’s Stonewall Uprising, which was sparked by a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Hamburger Mary’s will be the epicenter of Downtown’s Pride Month celebrations. “Every Friday and Saturday night at Hamburger Mary’s in June will be packed,” said Jewels. “We’ll be featuring special DJs and drag shows for the entire month.”
Jewels went on to mention that she’ll be at the Aquarium of the Pacific on June 2 for the club event Night Dive, which will feature a special activation in honor of Pride Month. She also noted that the LGBTQ Center will be hosting the 10th annual edition of its largest fundraiser of the year, the Black and White Ball, on June 24 at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.
“Downtown has the acceptance of the LGBTQ community behind it,” Jewels said. “The Arts Council for Long Beach and DLBA have fostered an amazing environment for creative arts, and the art of drag is an important piece of that to me. As an entertainer, I love the big hair, fabulous makeup, and glittering jewelry. Jewels Long Beach is my full drag name, because this is where I began and this is what I’m passionate about. I’m a huge cheerleader for Long Beach, one of the most diverse cities around.”
To see all Pride events and specials in June, visit our events and promotions spotlight here.