Welcome to “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” GO Magazine’s brand new interview series that profiles a different queer person each day by asking them seven unique (and sometimes random) questions. Get to know the thoughts, feelings and opinions of the groundbreaking, fierce forces-of-nature in the queer community.
I first met Cara Stewart when I was just a wee baby gay living in the beautiful Upstate New York. I would frequent the local restaurant and bar Stewart bartends at, Market Market. My friend Audrey and I would sit there, gushing over life, love, and work as Cara poured us delicious cocktails. She’d tell stories of her days in San Francisco and how she’s building her own house in the woods right in Rosendale. The connections you make when you live in rural areas are so genuine and meaningful.
Right before I moved to the city, Stewart started an event series called the Pansy Club—it was a space where anyone, LGBTQ or our allies, could convene and hold space together. It’s now grown into a weekly event that hosts films, DJs, drag shows, and so much more. Stewart is a pillar of the LGBTQ community in the Hudson Valley, where so often queer and trans people are left feeling isolated and lacking community. It’s my honor to present to you our seven minutes in heaven with the incomparable Cara Stewart.
GO Magazine: Who are you and what do you do?
Cara Stewart: My name is Cara Sue Stewart and I am the creator of the Pansy Club, weekly queer nights in the Hudson Valley. I have lived the past four years in Rosendale, New York. I moved from San Francisco where I had lived for seventeen years. Upon arriving in Upstate New York I realized how much I had taken for granted the abundant queer community in the Bay Area. I was searching for my people in the Hudson Valley and was having a hard time finding them.
That’s why two years ago I began Pansy Club. Pansy Club is my weekly queer night held in Rosendale and Kingston NY. Twice a week I host/bartend and have occasional events such as screening queer movies, holding DJ nights, holding lip sync contests, seasonal events, and doing a whole lot of just hanging out. I try to encourage the LGBTQ community in my area to come out of the woods, meet one another, and have some FUN! When I am not working on queer events I am working multiple jobs, trying to finish the small house I am building in the woods, and homesteading the 4 1/2 acres it’s sitting on.
GO: Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling discouraged or depleted?
CS: Inspiration has changed for me from time to time and place to place. When I lived on the West Coast, the ocean was always a place I went when feeling overwhelmed. But just as important to me then were the gay bars. They always felt like home. Unfortunately these days you can probably count them on one hand. Now I live in the woods and that is a constant source of replenishment for me, minus the mosquitoes! These days, going to a good rock show is a surefire way to get inspired and shake out the mental cobwebs.
GO: Who are your queer role models?
CS: When I was in my twenties my queer role models were the older generation of fierce, brave, loud people who fought for our rights when we had none. Writers in particular like James Baldwin, Leslie Feinberg, and Dorothy Allison, to name a few. Now that I’m in my forties, my queer role models have become the younger generation. The young people I have befriended through putting together queer events are always helping me to think more expansively about sexuality, gender, culture, and love.
GO: Describe yourself in three words.
CS: That’s not possible.
GO: What are you listening to right now?
CS: Summertime always brings out the T Rex lover in me. I have also been revisiting all the Bongwater albums, because Ann Magnuson is a force of nature. But when I’m looking at that pile of dishes or that project I have to finish, metal has been helping me get through it. Specifically High on Fire.
GO: Why do you think it’s so important to have queer-centric events and spaces?
CS: It has always been important to have queer events and spaces—and now more than ever. Starting the Pansy Club has helped me find and feel connected to my LGBTQ community in the Hudson Valley. The political climate gets more and more alarming every day. This can feel especially magnified in a more rural environment with a more spread-out queer population. That is why I think it is imperative for us to create queer-centric events. We need an outlet to have fun and let loose!
Being a part of a public event that is filled with like-minded people is empowering, especially if that is not your daily experience. My hope is that these events will inspire others to create their own events, and then those parties will inspire more people, and on and on… I want the woods to be filled with big queer events of all kinds. That will make ignoring all the Republican bumper stickers a little easier.
GO: Where can people find you?
CS: People can find me in person Sundays and Thursdays at the Pansy Club (Market Market Cafe in Rosendale, NY and The Beverly Lounge) or on Facebook at Cara Stewart.
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