Popular Chicago drag queen Lucy Stoole is shaking things up in Northalsted. Beginning earlier this month, she is the first Black drag queen to ever hold the program manager role at Berlin Nightclub.

Stoole started her new role on Feb. 1 but made the announcement on Twitter earlier this week. Berlin, located in Northalsted has been one of many staples for the city’s LGBTQ+ community for more than 30 years. In recent years, however, the nightclub and other establishments in the Northalsted corridor have come under fire for discriminating against Black and brown patrons and performers.

With the program manager position, Stoole wants to bring more budding and established Black artists and creatives to the center stage at Berlin.

“It’s going to allow me to open a lot of doors for a lot of the new Black generation that is coming in here and making sure that they don’t have to go through a lot of the same things that I did,” Stoole said while reflecting on what her new role means for Chicago’s Black drag and LGBTQ+ community. She spoke to The TRiiBE on the phone on Feb. 24, “But also, just being able to highlight all this amazing Black talent in this city that I feel like doesn’t get seen enough.”

Stoole said she applied for the role at Berlin about two months ago. She saw it a perfect fit with the work she’d done previously at the nightclub, including hosting and producing events as well as performing. On Saturday nights, she hosts Drag Night at Berlin. Additionally, she hosts Saturday Drag brunches at Macy’s Walnut Room twice a month.

As program manager, her duties include working alongside the management team to find and produce programming at Berlin that is diverse, eclectic and fun, Stoole explained. She has previously performed and curated events at Berlin for many years. 

“I will be overseeing and giving support to all of the shows that we’re producing there and also kind of dreaming up my own magical things that I want to do and booking talent with Berlin and the management there,” Stoole said. 

For decades, Chicago has been considered one of the most queer-friendly city. It is home to Northalsted, formerly known as Boystown, which is the oldest LGBTQ+ community in the U.S. 

However, due to Chicago being a segregated city, most of the city’s queer-friendly communities — such as Northalsted, Lakeview and Andersonville —  are majority-white neighborhoods located on the affluent North Side. Because of this, discrimination about Black and brown LGBTQ+ people in Chicago is an ongoing issue. 

The 2020 summer uprisings highlighted not only Black liberation, but also the issues facing Black queer communities. That summer, Zola Chatman delivered a dynamic speech in front of thousands of people at the Drag March for Change in Boystown.

“To those, I am a secret to be kept. To those, I am a liability until dealt with. To those, I am a mouth to close. To those, I am a loose end to tie up…I should not have to be here,” Chatman said. She is a Black trans women who has experienced the intersection of gendered violence, racism and white supremacy while living in Chicago.

READ MORE ABOUT ZOLA CHATMAN

That year, Berlin had its moment of reckoning. In June 2020, popular white drag queen T Rex was removed from Roscoe’s Tavern and Berlin Nightclub after public allegations from Black queer people that accused her of discriminating against Black performers, according to news reports from Block Club Chicago and Chicago Magazine. T Rex posted an apology on her Instagram page in June 2020. 

The revelations that came from that moment pushed Berlin to make changes and shake up its team, Stoole said, including adding someone to the team that could bring in talent that had previously been locked out under T Rex’s tenure. Stoole’s new role is a direct result of what happened in 2020. 

“It spurred a lot of change inside this one bar, but I think it did a lot for the community and the Black queer community at large across the country, at least started a conversation,” Stoole said.

As for what people can expect to see from Berlin in the coming months, Stoole said big things are coming, such as collaborations with other queer musical artists and performers from Chicago. She is also thrilled to usher in more Black voices at Berlin. 

Though she couldn’t go into specifics about future events and programming, Stoole said people in the city should be paying attention to Chicago Black queer creatives such as Thair, a singer-songwriter, Bambi Banks-Couleé, a drag performer and actor, and Vincent Martell, a filmmaker, director and the founder and CEO of Vam Studio. 

“There’s a new spirit and a new feeling in the entire place. I just want to continue to keep encouraging that and pushing that forward and keep highlighting marginalized voices, especially Black voices in this community, as much as I can,” Stoole said. 

Stoole will be hosting a special Black History Month Drag show featuring Black performers at Berlin on Saturday, Feb. 26. Doors open at 10:00 p.m and the show starts at 11:00 p.m. Click here for more details.

is a multimedia producer for The TRiiBE.