Free Bushwick variety show Queer Abstract creates community space for QTPOC

Host Shannon Matesky talks the monthly variety show.

More than 200 people pack into a Bushwick bar each month to catch this performance night featuring QTPOC artists.

The day President Donald Trump was sworn into office, Queer Abstract, a monthly event at Bushwick’s Starr Bar, held its first show and after party, featuring performances including poetry readings, dance, stand-up comedy and drag.

“The presidency happened, so it became more crucial to create a space for queer people of color,” said the event’s founder Shannon Matesky, an actress, poet, producer and director hailing from Berkeley, California.

“It was a tremendous act of resistance to form a space for us,” she added.

Matesky, who moved to NYC about a year ago, felt something was missing in her social scene after acclimating herself into the local party culture.

“I’d been partying, but I needed some content to my turn-up,” she said.

That’s where Queer Abstract came into play. The event showcases seven to 10 performers, followed by an after party for both performers and attendees. Matesky said inspiration for the event comes in part from her time living in Chicago, where she attended Jane Beachy’s Salonathon events.

Every Q.A. leads with a question, that Matesky said helps thematically drive the show. Past performances have been based on the question “What gets you free?” and “What’s love got to do with it?”

Starr Bar, for Matesky, is the perfect fit for the cultural event. The 214 Starr St. watering hole is part of local activism center Mayday Space, and frequently holds social justice meetups and panels.

“[Starr Bar and Mayday] in tandem provided the perfect landscape to do the show,” she said. “We are aligned, truly aligned.”

Matesky described the current queer art scene as having limitations — either events cost money, or they aren’t consistent events to attend. With Q.A., she looked to give queer artists a recurring space to perform in front of their own community.

“I work really hard to be a privileged producer and creator, and it’s a creative feat for me, and an amazing opportunity to create space for my people, she said. “A lot of performers thank me [after the show], because they don’t get the opportunity to perform in front of their own people.”

The event is free, though donations are welcome during the “Tithes and Offering” portion of the show.

Head to Queer Abstract’s next performance on April 21 at Starr Bar at 9 p.m. For more information, visit

Dana Reszutek