No More Freebies

The demand for queer entrepreneurs and talent is at an all-time high – and I’m hoping it’s not just a trend. While increased queer representation in the media and much needed scrutiny towards social accountability has led to a surge in supporting 2SLGBTQ+ talent, sometimes the approach does not always match the intent.

Hard work requires fair compensation,

especially as many queer creatives and entrepreneurs struggle to build a brand amidst the pandemic and try to secure a living wage with the increased cost of living. From rent to groceries to transportation and entertainment, you’re expected to make between $2.6k-5.6k per month to live in Canada. For entrepreneurs, it only gets worse. There seems to be a recurring mindset in which patrons argue that we are not worth our rates, that the product at hand is overpriced and that they could find it cheaper. 

There is no problem with having a limited budget and not being able to afford an artist or product, but expecting a freebie or trying to negotiate lower than what is priced because you believe that you are doing them a favour is not okay. We expect high-quality things at low prices from small businesses, but rarely question the price-points from larger brands or established well-known talent.

An important reminder for anyone considering supporting up and coming queer talent – Pricing an item or service not only covers the final product, but tools, time spent and all other necessities to sustain a business.
headshot of Makayla

Take me, for example; I am a drag queen, social media coordinator, actress, dancer and makeup artist. Creating my work kit includes makeup and applicators, costumes, wigs, my laptop and travel. As an artist who expects my gigs to help pay for my work and everyday life, freebies can significantly affect me in the long run if I am not careful. The decision to provide a free service comes from wanting to and understanding that there is time and finances available. Demanding a freebie or discounted service, disregards a complete respect for the time, money, and effort that goes into what’s provided. After my appearance on Canada’s Drag Race Season 2 Episode 8, I was flooded with messages about different opportunities, interviews, and shows. While it was amazing, I constantly watched people devalue my work expecting free work in exchange for public promotion and experience. I love being able to grow my brand, but to continue this work; I must be able to afford to do so.

Exposure does not pay the bills.

While I’d love to pay the landlords in followers, I don’t think they would accept that. To create a flourishing queer community, we must support one another within our means and respect fair compensation.

About the Author

makayla out of drag
Makayla Walker

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Makayla Walker (she/her) is a black transgender woman who thrives in the arts and constantly advocates for the black community. She began her love for advocacy and the arts in the Jane and Finch community where she was raised. It was there that Makayla learned about the importance of using your voice and the power of the performing arts. She then attended theatre school and began her journey in drag. She is now a Toronto drag staple and constant support for queer and trans youth looking for belonging.

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