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LGBTQ business alliance supports Spokane drag queen after conference performance

Video of the lunchtime performance surfaced online and sparked backlash among homeless advocates.
Credit: KING
Beyonce Black St. James

SPOKANE, Wash. — A local alliance serving Spokane's LGBTQ community is supporting a Spokane-based drag queen after her performance at a homelessness conference in Seattle sparked backlash.

The Inland Northwest business alliance is a business chamber dedicated to bringing together businesses, nonprofits and individuals who are welcoming and accepting of the LGBTQ community in the Spokane area.

Video from the Seattle conference, obtained by KREM’s Seattle sister station KING 5, showed drag queen Beyonce Black St. James wearing pasties, collecting cash from the audience.

"We love drag at our non-profit events. We love our friends with The Imperial Sovereign Court of Spokane. We love our Beyoncé Black St James," the INBA wrote on Facebook. "If this non-profit made an entertainment booking error for their target audience, it’s on them, not the performer, not the art."

Kira Zylstra, who served as Acting Director of All Home King County, resigned after the incident. KING 5 reports that she arranged the appearance of St. James, who removed some of her clothing during the routine.

Zylstra was placed on administrative leave last week pending the results of an investigation, according to Denise Rothleutner, King County Department of Community and Human Services chief of staff.

The footage of St. James' performance was anonymously sent to Christopher Rufo, an independent journalist and filmmaker who has been outspoken on the issue of homelessness.  

KREM 2 has reached out to St. James for comment. 

RELATED: Seattle nonprofit director on leave after adult performer hired for event

The Inlander reported in September that Beyonce Black St. James is a familiar face to the drag crowd in Spokane and has lived in the city since 1991.

St. James' Facebook page lists more than a dozen awards. According to her Instagram, St. James is a trans woman who has worked as an entertainer for more than 15 years.  

Videos on her Instagram page show her performing at nYne Bar and Bistro in downtown Spokane.  

The short clip captured inside the conference has been viewed thousands of times on Rufo’s Facebook page – a performance he says should never have happened.

“I think this was really a boiling point for people, because they are saying, ‘You're asking taxpayers for money, and then you are squandering it on something totally inappropriate in any work place, especially when you are using taxpayer funding,’” Rufo said.

KING 5's Sebastian Robertson contributed to this report. 

RELATED: Second 'Drag Queen Story Hour' brings supporters and protesters to downtown Spokane

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