The mayor of Dorchester’s seat is a honorary position that is awarded each year by the Dorchester Day Parade Committee to help raise funds and awareness for Sunday’s parade.
As he prepared to end his tenure in the position earlier this year, “Mayor” Ryan Collins, reached out to his friend, Lily Rose Valore, a dancer, model, and trans activist who has been named this year’s honorary chief executive.
A native of the South End, Valore began visiting Dorchester at age 18 and immediately felt at home in the queer community that thrives here. She has now lived in Dorchester for more than five years and performs at various bars. Her support from Dorchester residents inspired her to seek the honorary mayor position and use the platform to give back to the community.
“They support all of what I do,” said Valore. “I felt like it was almost my duty to kind of take the role and find a way to give back, which for me is raising money. And I had, like, four fundraisers and we raised a little over $4,000 for the parade.”
The Reporter had the opportunity to speak with Valore this week about her love for Dorchester and the parade.
Q. What has living in Dorchester been like?
A. Something that I’ve been longing for since childhood and since my mom and I kind of parted ways has just been a form of acceptance and safety. And so, I think that what it [Dorchester] offers is just, you know, kind of walking out and seeing all types of people and seeing a community that felt safe enough to express themselves openly.
Q. What are your favorite activities and groups within the neighborhood?
A. I really like going for walks and kind of just exploring Dorchester that way. So sometimes I’ll do it with my friends, going to get coffee and doing the simpler stuff because my performances and mayor duties are pretty busy and kind of just around shows and cameras and all that.
Q. How do you successfully fundraise for the parade?
A. I used my performance and entertainment life as a way to kind of raise money. I did a little fundraising tour down the strip of Dorchester Avenue, and I was able to stop at every bar that supports me. So, I basically just kind of went to each place that ran my fundraisers and did like five numbers. We raised a lot of money through tips, my Go Fund Me, and proceeds from drinks as well.
Q. What are you hoping to do with this new platform?
A. My hope is with the role is to find ways to gear it toward youth and LGBTQ youth. So, I was looking at finding ways to do a few more events as the mayor and raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester. We have some partners there and some people who want to partner with some performances and kind of gearing that money toward the kids.
I always want to foster the upcoming youth and just kind of give back in ways that I didn’t have.
Q. What impact have you had and hope to continue to have on the Dorchester community?
A. I think that my impact on the Dorchester community is that because my home bar is there, a lot of the queer community literally come to show up for me. But also, I just think it’s a good representation for the kids who will be at a parade. They’re going to see a Black trans woman walking down Dot. Ave and there might be a kid who really is trying to find safety and finding themselves or coming more into who they are, but they don’t have the visibility. So, I guess like with me being that mayor and being around, it could help someone kind of be more true to who they are.
Q. Why is it important that the community sees a successful trans woman of color representing them?
A. I think that the more that they see trans people or queer people then there’s less retaliation. I just feel like a lot of times the hate comes from a lack of understanding or wanting to understand.
Q. What has been your favorite part of this process so far?
A. My favorite part was how I kind of geared going about raising money, like my version of it. I think my favorite par, was just adding four extra shows and then calling it a Dorchester tour, and then the people really responded to that. I’ll say additionally that it felt special to perform at all the places that I go to on my days off.
Q. What would you like to see for Dorchester in the future?
A. My goal is just to see it keep growing so that people feel safe to slowly walk down the street and not be called a street name or treated poorly. I just want more and more queer people to move in. But also coexisting is a big thing for me, I hang with whoever, and I never judge anyone based on who they are, or what they look like. So maybe you kind of just push that idea of coexisting. And I think the way that I can help do that is just by continuing to perform there.