Okey Napier was a writer, an educator at Marshall University, and an outspoken LGBTQ activist in West Virginia. He passed away in the summer of 2018 at 51. Okey made significant contributions to LGBTQ rights in Huntington, and we hope to celebrate his legacy.
Okey grew up in a rural area in Wayne, West Virginia.
Of course I got introduced to Wonder Woman. I think 1975 is when the first episode aired. My mother introduced me to it, and little did she know she was creating a baby Amazon drag queen."
Okey knew that he felt different from other boys at an early age. He was terrified.
As a student at Marshall University in Huntington, Okey came out as gay for the first time.
Okey remembers the AIDS crisis vividly. He calls it the "plague years."
Gay bars played a significant role in Okey's experience in Huntington. Over the years, he watched them disappear.
It took me and my best friend Clyde a week to work up the courage to go into the Driftwood. We would pull in front, I mean, RIGHT in front, and we would look to make sure there were no cars coming up and down the street and we would get out and run to the door. You had to ring a bell and they would look through a peephole. If they knew you or if it didn’t look like you were carrying a bunch of baseball bats and bricks, they would let you in. But every time we would run up to the door and we would see headlights coming, we would run back to the car and jump in the car and sink down so nobody would see us going into this gay bar."
Okey was also well known for his outspoken drag persona, Ilene Over.
For ten years, Okey worked on a writing a book titled Make Me Pretty, Sissy. The novel follows the experience of a young drag queen growing up in Huntington in the 80s and 90s, just as Okey did.