The 10 Most Influential People in LGBTQ+ St. Louis in 2024

Candy Principle (Photo by Zachary Linhares).

Candy Principle (Photo by Zachary Linhares).

Since 2019, Out in STL has been honoring those who’ve made a positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community, and each year we’ve gone about choosing our honorees a bit differently. In 2023, for instance, we presented Icon Awards to three activists who traveled to Jefferson City and succeeded in stopping a drag ban. This year, we selected our honorees in consultation with area Pride organizations. The result is a wonderful variety of honorees, from young people on the rise, to those who’ve spent a lifetime contributing to the community. In the latter camp is our Legacy Award recipient Candy Principle, who graces the cover. Honorees will be celebrated at the Maven’s Pride Unified Ball, which will be held June 21 at the Little Bevo.

Candy Principle

Candy has always been a huge mentor and supporter of new queens. She’ll lend them clothes, jewelry — offer words of encouragement. She’s a former Miss Cosmopolitan, Miss St. Louis USA and Miss Missouri State Classic. And even when she was competing in pageants, she was still helping the other girls. While recovering from my surgery, she came through with food, money. … She’s a true sister in every sense of the word. —Jordan Elizabeth Braxton, 2023 Icon Award

Damion Parks-Weekly

Meet Damion Parks-Weekly, a vibrant force shaping the landscape of St. Louis with his unwavering commitment to advocacy, leadership and family. As the current President of Black Pride St. Louis, Damion stands at the forefront of the city’s LGBTQ+ community, advocating for equality, empowerment and visibility.

Originally hailing from Birmingham, Damion brings with him a rich tapestry of experiences and perspectives. His journey to St. Louis has been one of purpose and dedication, driven by a desire to effect positive change and foster inclusivity.

Beyond his role in Black Pride St. Louis, Damion serves as a National Board Member of Kappa Psi Kappa Inc., a testament to his dedication to uplifting and empowering marginalized communities. Through this platform, he works tirelessly to create opportunities for growth, education and solidarity.

However, Damion’s contributions extend far beyond the realm of advocacy. He is also deeply entrenched in the fabric of his community as the First Gentleman and Elder of the Sanctuary Church located in Tower Grove South. Alongside his partner, Romelle Parks-Weekly, Damion embodies the values of compassion, service and spiritual guidance, nurturing a community built on love and acceptance.

In the midst of his many roles and responsibilities, Damion recently embraced a new chapter in his life: fatherhood. Welcoming his son, Cameron, into the world, Damion’s commitment to creating a better future is now more personal than ever. His dedication to fostering a world where his son can thrive without fear of discrimination or prejudice is a driving force behind his tireless efforts. —Randy Rafter, Black Pride

Tre’von Griffith

Trey G is such an amazing powerhouse here in the City of St. Louis. They have really inspired me to look at the ways in which we are bringing community together around art and culture. I am so fascinated by the way they integrate their music with their community advocacy, with their knowledge of art and fashion and just badassery. I’m honored to have worked with them several times and have been in their opera. And really, I think my life has been better since I met them. —Maxi Glamour, 2023 Icon Award

Roxie Valentine

Roxie has been an active community member and advocate in the Metro East and is an inspiration to many. She uses her influence, which was gained through years of hard work, to uplift Pride in the Metro East and beyond. Roxie first became involved in the Metro East Pride organization when she won Queen of Metro East Pride in 2019. She was instrumental in growing the organization through a pivotal time of expansion. After her reign as Queen of Metro East Pride, she joined the Board of Directors. While serving on the board she created an atmosphere of passion, excitement and inclusivity. She has been an incredible ally to so many and has encouraged all members of the queer community to shine their light.

Through her community outreach she brought a whole new level of prestige to the Metro East Pride Pageant and the many fundraisers we put on. She has gone on to be crowned Queen of Alton pride and Miss Missouri Comedy Queen, and she has continued to build bridges in the area. She uses her platform to spread awareness of different issues impacting the LGBTQIA+ community. Always quick with a joke, Roxie is a familiar face to many. We believe the work she has put into creating an inclusive and ever-growing community makes her more than worthy of this award. —Metro East Pride Board of Directors 2024

Melissa Dunn

When Missouri outlawed women’s right to choose, Melissa Dunn, of Abortion Action Missouri, didn’t give up. They have been working tirelessly to overturn unjust laws and stand up to the domination of Missouri by a tyrannical ultra-conservative majority.

This is their core mission, but they have also dedicated themselves to protecting the LGBTQ community. Their abortion clinic protectors have used their skills and bravery to shield Drag Story Hours from haters, assisted with the safety of Pride Parades and offered support to anyone in the community to ensure we are never intimidated or scared into hiding ourselves and our culture.

Melissa Dunn has been a fearless and energetic leader in making AAM a force for both free choice and LGBTQ safety. —Tower Grove Pride

Lucy Couture

Lucy Couture isn’t just a drag performer; she’s a beacon of inclusivity and community in St. Louis.

Having had the pleasure of providing production for Lucy’s Messy Monday Drag show at Rehab Bar & Grill, I’ve had backstage access to their ambitious goals and have repeatedly witnessed that they’re just as positive and helpful offstage as they are during their performances. Always cheerleading their guests by highlighting their contributions.

Lucy’s shows are a catalyst for self-expression and empowerment. Not only do they embrace pageantry with grace and glamor, they also encourage others to step into their own light, even if they’ve been hesitant before. Lucy creates an environment where doubts melt away, replaced by confidence and belonging. Whether you’re a seasoned performer or a newcomer, Lucy Couture provides a platform for all to shine, fostering a community where everyone’s unique beauty is celebrated and elevated. —Christopher Taber

Mark Moore

When in 2019, with only 30 days to go, Mark Moore decided to organize a full-scale ticketed New Year’s Eve event, I was skeptical. But in that short window he nailed down a great venue, delicious food, entertainment and deftly navigated controversy (because St. Louis). The event was a big success, and since then, he’s become one of our community’s main organizers and event planners.

He’s also someone people rely on when things are tough. When a police cruiser plowed into Bar PM late at night, and then officers roughed up and arrested one of the owners, Moore was the first on the scene and was embedded there for days to secure the wrecked space and offer support. —Chris Andoe

Elizabeth Fuchs

Lilly, who is currently running for Missouri State Representative, embodies love in every phase of her life, and her evolution within our community is a testament to that. I first met her at Novak’s, greeted by her infectious laugh and sometimes serenaded with a song.

She went on to work with PROMO as the manager of public policy, served as policy consultant with the Metro Trans Umbrella Group and was a reproductive justice activist with Planned Parenthood. She was chosen as the Advocate Magazine’s 2018 Champion of Equality for Missouri.

As a professor at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University, she heals and loves her way into the ripple effect of higher knowledge, understanding and empathy.

The real revolution is found in higher love. Never shying away from the fight, she rises each morning ready to face whatever storm comes her way. She fights for future generations by doing her damnedest to heal the present from the past. —K. Templeton

Ming Lee

Ming Lee has been crowned Miss Fannie’s 2014, Miss Missouri State 2015, Miss Cosmo Elegance 2017 and Miss Cosmopolitan 2018, to name a few. The energetic performer (who does an amazing Tina Turner) is well-known as the dazzling host of the Friday night shows at Prism, but those in the Black Trans community know her as a mother figure always looking out for their well-being. Through her work with the Community Wellness Project, Ming’s mission is to ensure her community is cared for. —Pride St. Louis

Ian Darnell

As the Founder of the St. Louis LGBT History Project and co-chair of the Missouri Historical Society’s LGBTQIA+ Collecting and Exhibition Committee (Gateway to Pride), I can personally attest to Ian’s many contributions to preserving and promoting St. Louis’ queer history.

I began working with Ian in 2008 and have seen his personal and professional growth propel him into a stellar class of emerging LGBTQIA+ scholars and curators. Examples of his achievements include:

  • Researching a PhD dissertation on “Queer St. Louis” – dramatically adding to the growing body of knowledge of St. Louis’ LGBTQIA+ history.
  • Facilitating the Griot Museum of Black History’s innovative program and exhibit on the impact of HIV/AIDS on St. Louis’ African American community.
  • Providing volunteer leadership and research expertise to the St. Louis LGBT History Project with focus on conducting oral histories, creating exhibits for Pride events and obtaining documents.
  • Creating the first of its kind St. Louis area LGBTQIA+ walking history tour.
  • Serving as a speaker for the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Missouri Conference on History, Urban History Association and many others.
  • Helping spearhead the Missouri Historical Society’s innovative LGBTQIA+ collecting initiative that is securing rare artifacts and oral histories — dramatically enhancing the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts of archives and museums across the St. Louis region.

—Steven Louis Brawley


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