Dannie Landry never enjoyed going to gay bars.
He felt the stares and the looks from other patrons. He could sense the silent judgment. Although he's bisexual, he felt like an outsider in a place where he should have felt the most included.
In fact, he never thought he'd be working in nightlife as a career, much less managing a LGBTQ-inclusive club that hosts about three drag shows each week in the heart of East Biloxi.
"As a kid, I thought I was going to be a priest, and here we are, running a progressive bar," Landry said in an interview for "Out Here in America," a podcast by the Sun Herald and McClatchy that explores what it's like being LGBT in the Deep South and in other rural areas across the U.S.
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Landry manages Veaux Bar & Grill, an "everyone bar" that is LGBTQ friendly and focuses on inclusiveness of every person who walks in the door to enjoy a show, have a cocktail or get a late-night meal. He's been managing the spot for more than a year.
Landry's goal is for patrons at Veaux to feel welcome in the LGBTQ community — for people to never feel the judgment he felt over the years.
"Everyone deserves a safe space, and everyone deserves a place where they can come in and not worry about anything," Landry said.
Since taking the helm of Veaux a little more than a year ago, Landry has helped develop one of the most popular recurring drag performances on the Coast — Vixens of Veaux — and he's proud that it's anything but a typical drag show people are used to watching in Mississippi.
From live singing performances to burlesque to monologues, guests are always in for a treat during shows, Landry said, and the queens are portraying an art form that isn't always visible in Biloxi.
And the goal? Landry wants his queens to prosper on the Mississippi Coast.
Drag is, "just another aspect of (Biloxi) culture that has been swept under the rug," Landry said. "I've always been a firm believer of you shouldn't have to leave to leave your mark."
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