Wes McQuillen

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Why do you love Richmond?

Richmond has character, and it's the perfect balance of lots going on every night, beautiful outdoor recreation, but with an affordable cost of living and visiting. You can usually find free street parking at everything you go to. You can get oysters and wine at a speakeasy for less than twelve dollars. You can park downtown, walk across a suspension bridge, and swim in the river in less than 5 minutes. It has dichotomies - you've got boutique hand made jeans and punk venues, craft breweries and burger beer joints, one of the top ten modern art collections in the country and drag racing. I also love how Richmond isn't pretentious - you can go anywhere in jeans with a beard and visible tattoos, and people just think you look like you belong here. The culture here nurtures a DIY spirit. Whether you're conventional or you're a weirdo, you can find a niche in Richmond.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Richmond?

There's not just one thing, so here's the hypothetical version of several of them - eating a savory hand pie from Proper Pie while dancing at ANIMAL, a queer androgynous dance party at Strange Matter, right after a punk show and DIY craft fair.

What do you do here?

A lot. But to be more specific, video production, photography, marketing consulting, queer and trans organizing, event planning, volunteering, graphic design, playing bass in a band... I should stop.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

This week it's Shoryuken Ramen but with so many options I change my mind a lot.

What would you tell somebody who has never been to Richmond before?

It's way more progressive than people think. Friends from the Northeast and the West Coast are always shocked. One example - we have a free clinic for low-income trans folks to get transgender healthcare. How many places have that, especially the South? We have free public pools, including indoor ones open all year. The James River Park System is unlike anything I've seen anywhere else - how many cities can say that almost all their riverfront property belongs to the public for public use? And the VMFA has some of the finest and largest collections in the country, is open year round, and free.

What's your favorite store?

I'm not much of a shopper, but for the whimsy alone, I'd say World of Mirth.

How do you spend your free time?

I sit in the James River, I go to gallery exhibits, I spend too much money on awesome food, I take pictures and video of fascinating people.

What's your favorite neighborhood?

I love Church Hill.

How do you describe your community?

I don't consider myself part of only one community, I have so many diverse circles of friends and acquaintances that I feel like I can't be more than 3 degrees removed from anyone around here, but I've been here for a while and really put myself out there over the years.