“The community always comes first.” That’s the running theme for the DTLA Proud festival and the new-ish cannabis store in Downtown called Green Qween, according to Andres Rigal, one of the driving forces behind both. This weekend, his two endeavors collide in what is sure to be pure fire in more ways than one.
Rigal, best known for popular LGBTQ+ clubs and parties like Evita and Summertramp, has been a leader on the activist side of local queer culture for some time now, and his foray into cannabis was a natural fit. He’s expanded on his goals in meaningful and memorable ways, directing his energy to create foundational services that serve and celebrate the community while providing entertainment and education throughout Los Angeles.
“I wanted Green Qween to contribute to a new chapter in queer cannabis history, which is why we’re ‘queer-all-year’ and we prioritize emerging queer, BIPOC and women-led cannabis brands by giving them prominent space on our shelves,” he explains. “Not only do our customers demonstrate support for these brands with their dollars, they also directly assist the queer community since a portion of all sales are directed to the development of the DTLA Proud Community Center and its services.”
This Friday before the Proud festival none other than bounce queen Big Freedia will be at the store as she launches the new weed brand called Royal Bud. The debut product drop –featuring fire strains in limited glass jar eighths with fun names like Ya Wiggle (Hybrid), You Already Know (Indica) and Mardi Grass (Sativa)– is happening exclusively at Green Qween and the meet and greet takes place from 6-8 p.m. Those who make a purchase will get a free ticket to see Freedia perform at the Summertramp party inside the fest on Sunday.
“You can almost count on one hand the number of queer-led brands in cannabis, so it’s time to do better,” Big Freedia tells LA Weekly. “We need more Black, queer, POC and women-led brands to showcase our entrepreneurial spirit and to represent our place in this industry. Launching at Green Qween in DTLA means Royal Bud will be well-represented at a queer-all-year social equity licensed dispensary.”
Royal Bud plans to expand its distribution network and product suite throughout California this Fall, working with industry partners hand selected by the music star, whose been an outspoken cannabis consumer since her career began. In addition to her own output, the New Orleans bred music star is a frequent Beyonce collaborator (she’s heard on Bey’s 2016 hit “Formation” and more recently on her single “Break My Soul”).
“Big Freedia’s entry into cannabis is an important moment for the industry,” says Rigal. “Aside from a few fabulous outliers, there’s very little queer, trans and BIPOC representation on the retail and brand side. It’s time for the industry to evolve, and I hope both Green Qween and Big Freedia’s Royal Bud inspire more QTBIPOC entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams in cannabis.”
LA Weekly has covered Rigal and his events for years, and they always top our list for hot fashion and feel good, inclusive energy. With Summertramp presenting another splashy soiree this weekend as part of DTLA Proud (which seeks to honor L.A. queer culture beyond pride month), we asked him to reflect on his events and their impact.
“I started producing events in L.A. because I was going to parties and didn’t see myself or my friends represented in the spaces that were created,” he says. “At the time parties seemed one-note: it felt like if you weren’t part of that particular scene, then you weren’t welcome. This inspired me greatly and I chose to do something about it by creating my own brands, which have always aimed to foster a symphony of expression and diversity where everyone is welcome to be themselves and to celebrate one another.”
Rigal says SummerTramp, which started as an elaborate waterpark-style shindig in the parking lot of Tony’s bar in downtown, is his favorite event to produce. “To me it’s more than just a party,” he says. “It’s a season and celebration of the quintessential queer summer in L.A. ”
Big Freedia meet and greet at Green Qween, 1051 S Broadway; Friday, August 26, 6-8 p.m. thegreenqween.com
DTLA Proud at Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave.; Sat. and Sun., Aug. 27-28, 12-10 p.m. (Summertramp joins other L.A. nightlife venues including Redline, Precinct, Jalisco, Akbar and more at the event’s “Proud Oasis” both days, with Big Freedia’s set on Sunday.) There’s also live local performers on the Proud stage, plus vendor and community booths. More info at dtlaproud.org
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