Chris Weaver – On Attending The “Rona Rave”, Lessons Learned, & Redemption

When Christopher Weaver (otherwise known as The Voice favorite Nedra Belle) was found to be one of the people that attended the now notorious “Rona Rave”, a myriad of feelings occurred for various people. Fans were shocked, friends disappointed, and Weaver himself found himself on the receiving end of the much buzzed about “cancel culture” buzzword that is bandied about in our society today. As everyone from fellow party attendees to complete strangers had an opinion on the party, it was time for Weaver himself to speak. Chris & I sat down to talk about apologies, the cancel culture and what compelled him to attend this life changing event in the first place. 

Michael Cook: One thing many people noticed about the video you put out, is that you did not formally apologize. Would you like to or have you done so?

Chris Weaver: I have. I was speaking with someone in another interview and I did apologize. I had a whole week of ups and downs and had time to really think how I would feel if the shoe was on the foot, and I see that people are hurting. They have lost loved ones. These are people’s families and friends who are serving and putting themselves at risk. We should all be doing our part to bring us back to somewhat of a normal way of living.

MC: What do you think it was that was the tipping point that changed your way of thinking? 

CW: I had some close friends reach out to me this past week who said that they do love me and will always support me. I had one friend who sat me down and said “this is why you should apologize”. It was all reasons that were personal and they knew me. They reached me in a very different way and showed me a very different perspective.

MC: Many people look at the “circuit” culture as something on its own, and seeing you there definitely was jarring. In a way, people held the fierce drag performer Nedra Belle to a different standard. Do you think that is fair?

CW: For some yes; especially those outside of New York City who don’t know me, definitely. I remember when I came onto the circuit scene and I was just trying it out. That is where I found some of my closest friendships and found that I could just be me. While that may be the case for some, it does not justify anything. It is unfortunate though, that this is now another event where the circuit ends up bad mouthed.

MC: Have you spoken to other people that attended the same event and do they feel that the behavior and attending the event was jusfited?

CW: I don’t think that anyone that I have talked to from that event thinks that it is justified. I think that everyone had their own reasons for going, and in the end we realize that it was all selfish. Whatever your reasoning was, it was selfish. Right now, everyone is going through the same struggle and has that need to connect with someone right now-that does not justify it. I have spoken to people and I have not heard anyone saying that they would do this again. I think some, because they have never been in a situation like this, do not know how to handle it. I think everyone that I have spoken to, if we had the opportunity to change that Monday night, I would stay right at home.

Posted by Chris Weaver on Wednesday, May 6, 2020

MC: Cancel culture; so many people find it to be dangerous, while others feel it is their mission to tell everyone how they should be leading their lives. One point you made in your initial video stood out; our community is great at building each other up, but we almost seem to take joy in tearing each other down. Why do you think that is?

CW: That is a good question. I don’t know that I really have an answer to that either. Especially something like this, if you’re wrong your wrong. To see people that I have had relationships or interactions with on a friendship level and to see some of the things that they have said or have posted, I dont think that I could ever do that. I think, what if the shoe was on the other foot? While we’re all capable of it, I don’t think I could ever do that to someone else. That has been the hardest thing to digest really.

Art Courtesy of Andrew Byrne

MC:It sounds like you are disappointed in yourself, but also dissapoiinted in people that you may have considered friends.

CW: I say this all the time; you can’t please everybody. If you try to please everybody, you are going to be at a loss. This is why America is the greatest country in the world; you don’t have to believe what I believe and vice versa. I can apologize every day; someone is going to find a problem with that. When does it get to a point when it’s like “okay-that’s it”. I’m not really dissapointed in some of my friends posts, at some point you just look back and say “wow that really hurt”.

MC: The social media accounts for a number of the people that attended the event deleted or blocked their social media accounts directly following the party leaking to the public. You however, did not do so and directly addressed the issue. Were you always the type of person who would address an issue head on like this?

CW: If it was that easy, probably. I have learned that at the end of the day, you can run or distract, but you are still going to have that problem and you are going to have to face it. I have never lived through a pandemic, and you just have so many things going on. I am the type of person who thinks, you only have one life to live. I went to that party and I regret it.

Photograph by Andrew Byrne

MC: Our country consistently loves a comeback. How was Chris/Nedra Belle changed and how will you move in a positive direction?

CW: Right now, to stay home because that is my part. I am actually thinking about what I am going to do, because it is important to not just be a sayer, but be a doer as well. Any way that I can help those that have helped us, and any way I can help us as a human race to get back and to move forward as people, I want to do that. I don’t know what that looks like now, I don’t know that any of us do but I am all for it. I love people and the greatest thing about this is that no matter how this turns out, we are going to make it work and we are going to do it together.

MC: There is one question that many people have that had seen the videos and still shots taken; why did you let them take your picture and film you at this event?

CW: I remember Ian (Frost) asking someone if he could tag them and they said yes. I remember saying to myself “you said yes to that”? I remember in the moment, everybody was feeling the music and I was standing there and someone had a camera, and I did not even think about it.

MC: What would the Christopher of today tell the person that was preparing to go to that party?

CW: Choose to be creative, find other ways to connect. If you need to get out that bad, go for a walk. Think about the consequences. I often say, your reaction causes effect. Think about that; how it effects those around you, and in this case, people globally. If everyone participates, we can get through this. So, that misstep is backstep for everyone. It will be great to be consistently with friends rather than just one night and possibly have your career put on the line. It’s not worth it.

For more info on Chris Weaver, follow him here 

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