by Mark Van Streefkerk
A new public service announcement promoting Washington Exposure Notifications (WA Notify) features campy content from queer and BIPOC performers, providing some much-needed levity as the pandemic drags on. With a cast of Seattle’s notable dancers, entertainers, and drag performers, new promotional videos shed light on how WA Notify helps prevent COVID-19 transmission, along with a catchy song-and-dance about how to wear a mask, maintain physical distance, and keep your COVID pod “Tight, tight, tight, t-tight!”
For smartphone users, WA Notify helps prevent COVID-19 transmission by altering the user if they’ve been near someone in the last 14 days who tested positive for the virus. Notifications are kept anonymous through random codes transmitted by users’ phones. If the user is notified of exposure, the app provides further information on next steps such as testing and quarantine. WA Notify launched on Nov. 30, and is available through a setting on an iPhone or via an app for Android phones.
So far, 1.68 million (of about 6 million total) Washingtonians use WA Notify, and the more users, the greater the effect will be. The Washington Department of Health (DOH) sought out trusted individuals in Seattle’s communities to get the word out. DOH reached out to performance artist, dancer, choreographer, and Beacon HIll resident Alyza DelPan-Monley at the end of November to collaborate on a PSA unique to the communities she’s part of. DelPan-Monley’s experience in Seattle’s dance, theater, and performing arts worlds meant they knew an extensive roster of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC performers.
“The arts community, the queer community, the Brown and Black community of artists in this city is blossoming and bursting at the seams,” she said. “I love every human that was in this [project]. I love the feeling that art can do stuff. Art can help connect ideas. Everything doesn’t have to be sterile and academic to be received. In fact, humanizing and making something quirky and queer and a little off-norm is actually a fun step [to finding] that knowledge is teachable in all these different ways.”
Reaching out to entertainers and dancers like Moonyeka, drag performers One and Beau Degas, and music composer Steven Tran, DelPan-Monley virtually coordinated the project over a week in December. They wrote the script, choreography, and edited the videos each performer filmed in their own quarantined surroundings. The cast explains how WA Notify works, including a puppetry segment demonstrating how privacy is protected, alleviating fears that users’ locations will be tracked. Tran composed the music for the catchy tune at the end. Two shorter videos were also made from editing content from the original five-minute video. In influencer-style, the promo videos have been distributed widely and organically through the performers’ social media accounts and YouTube.
“We put it together in more or less a week,” DelPan-Monley said. “Each [performer] offered so much polish because they got to do things their way and bring their own expertise and style and craft into their specific actions. It was fun to work on a tight deadline and make it happen.”
The result is a hilarious, over-the-top, info-packed PSA from the hearts, and living rooms, of Seattle’s queer and BIPOC performers. Since live shows have been cancelled indefinitely, it’s a welcome treat to see familiar faces and share a light-hearted moment, even if it is about a serious subject.
DelPan-Monley pointed out that most people are probably a little fatigued about COVID-19 protocols. They hope the videos are “a moment where it’s just not so tiring to hear that message again, because, we know. We know. We’re all getting tired of having to do that, but the pandemic isn’t over. … We can mitigate risk by being safe and cautious with all our actions, but with a fun song and dance.”
Watch the full-length video on YouTube (or below!).
You can also find all the contributors on Instagram:
Featured Image: Drag performers Beau Degas (left) and Bitch Hazel explain how Exposure Notifications work on your phone. (Photo courtesy of Alyza DelPan-Monley.)
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