Believing all customers should leave the store feeling better than when they came in, Dereka Bolton manager of Prince Rupert’s second-largest general merchandise store, said on Dec. 5, customer service should be the same quality in a single staffed high-end boutique to a large retail chain outlet. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Believing all customers should leave the store feeling better than when they came in, Dereka Bolton manager of Prince Rupert’s second-largest general merchandise store, said on Dec. 5, customer service should be the same quality in a single staffed high-end boutique to a large retail chain outlet. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Heart of our City – Dereka Bolton, Rainbow Dynasty

Rainbow children need to be strong together and brightly coloured

Dereka Ming Dynasty is not just the stage name given to him by his drag mother, but it’s the persona that he now lives. He believes in being ‘out’ and living an authentic life true to himself.

While the Ming dynasty is known for trading and sales, drama, literature and renowned precious porcelain, the threads of nuance and connection to the historic time weave through Dereka Bolton’s life from professional retail management and sales improvement to his on-stage performances to his teaching youth about the dangers of homophobia in society.

Born in Prince George to a mom from Prince Rupert and a dad from Port Essington, he moved to Prince Rupert eight years ago. Many people know his face and customer focussed approach as the manager of the dollar store. He said his legal name is Derek, but close family and friends acknowledge the moniker bestowed on him before his first onstage performance in drag. Often satirical and comedic, drag names are given by the person or mother who mentors and guides a new ‘queen.’ Dereka said he was given his name Ming because of how he looked dressed in drag for the first time. Dynasty is his drag mother’s family or house name that is passed along to anyone adopted into the line.

“It’s who I became. It’s who took centre stage in my life,” he said, adding he is proud to be an LGBTQ+ community member.

Ming Dynasty may be a colourful on-stage character, but rainbow dynasties are what Dereka hopes to create in Prince Rupert. Coming out early during his teenage years and taking the crown of ‘Gay Prom Queen,’ he said he went through his share of taunting and teasing during high school and wants to make things easier for the youth of today, especially in smaller towns.

“Stonewall basically set the standards for leading the way into the gay life and getting on there. It set the way for people actually realizing the adage ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,” he said.

It was his thought process that being gay would become easier for young people in society since the events of Stonewall had already paved the road.

“I thought as the years progressed, things would come a little bit easier. But, it’s kinda like it’s ebbed and flowed with everything,” he said, adding that small centres can struggle with the gay lifestyle, and larger cities can be more accepting.

When he first moved to Prince Rupert, he said being “out” and living his authentic self, he felt like he was isolated and wondered if he may be the only gay male in the city. However, eight years on, he has met many people in the LGBTQ+ community and has helped others come to accept themselves and not keep who they truly are in the closet or hidden away.

Prior to moving to Prince Rupert, Dereka teamed up with a friend, writing grant proposals to go into schools to teach about homophobia. His friend was the finance guy, and Dereka was the spokesperson presenting in schools. They taught in schools from P.G. to Terrace but never made it all the way to Prince Rupert schools.

“I don’t want to say I’m so much of a pioneer of the aspect of it, but I helped teach, and others learn about homophobia. I would like to do it again in smaller communities and the surrounding villages. There’s this part of this life where I see a lot of people … that are coming out, and they’re afraid to just be who they are.”

He wants to support those that need it and teach others how to be strong.

“So if we were able to get into the schools, into the systems, or have some sort of symposium … I would love to be part of that,” he said.

He would like to see the LGBTQ+ community members blend together more in Prince Rupert in the form of weekly or monthly meetings for support and discussion where relevant issues could be discussed. Issues for youth will be different for those in the 50 to 60 age range, but being proud of who you are is vital to a healthy being.

“It’s sometimes a feeling of segregation and feeling of almost like defeat, kind of thing,” he said, and there are many different issues for individuals.

“I know that we’re out there. I see you, and I know that you’re here. [With coming out] maybe it’s because too you’re too shy to be who you are or it’s because you don’t know who you are or you’re just not comfortable with who you are, or you just haven’t gotten the chance to discover who you are … at 50 or 60 years old it’s just as tough coming out as it is at 13 or 14 years old. So it might be they think, ‘I’ve lived a good half of my life being in the closet, I can’t and don’t want to come out now, or I’m too afraid to come out now.’”

He said a teenager coming out is different from an older adult.

“A 13, 14, 15, or 16, year old boy or girl coming out – you haven’t come into being you yet. You’re just coming out, so you have your entire life to live who you are.”

He said he has met many people in the city that are not comfortable being in their own skin and are hesitant to come out due to homophobia.

“With a casual group meeting in a coffee shop or safe space, anyone from all ages can get together and feel like they are not alone,” he said.

Dereka said he thought of organizing an amateur drag night where people could come out show their talent, whether it is dance, piano, singing, comedy, or even playing the flute.

“Everybody could come out and show a different side of the rainbow because they call Prince Rupert the city of rainbows. But I’ve yet to see a lot of rainbow children actually express who they really are. If I can bring a different aspect to the city, I would love to, ” he said.

“As far as we’ve come from Stonewall days, we still have so far to go to find our pot of gold at the end of our rainbows so we can continue to create rainbow dynasties.”


K-J Millar | Journalist
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Heart of our City