If you have attended a party in New York City in recent years, there is a chance Terence Edgerson had something to do with it. The nightlife leader has made a name for himself across the city, where he has produced his own events and hosted parties for folks like DJ Ty Sunderland.
Edgerson’s success is built on a foundation of real-world experience dating back to his younger years growing up in Michigan. At age 18, he moved from the Midwest to New York City, where he wound up facing housing instability. He ended up receiving services from the Ali Forney Center, an LGBTQ community center serving thousands of homeless youth between the ages of 16 and 24.
“I’m incredibly grateful that I had that experience because [otherwise] I don’t know if I would be where I am today,” said Edgerson, who has become known as the “Social Bee” of the city. “I needed stability. I needed place to stay. It helped me worry less about everything else around me and focus on myself.”
Edgerson tapped into in multiple industries, from fashion to nightlife, and now — less than a decade after first getting involved with Ali Forney Center — he is on the board of the organization.
“What I want to do is use my experience to show people what is possible and that you really can do anything when you have people who believe in your abilities,” he said.
These days, Edgerson is navigating the ups and downs and the ins and outs of a beleaguered nightlife scene that has faced fierce challenges since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. His assessment is that the city’s nightlife environment is storming back to life — and he believes patrons are more conscious of the realities of daily life for many of the workers who have not had the luxury of working from home in the coronavirus era.
“It’s blossoming and it is only going to get better,” he said. “Coming back to it, there is a greater emphasis on community and greater appreciation for DJs, for bouncers, for people who work in nightlife. I think there is more empathy.”
At the moment, Edgerson is preparing for the one-year anniversary of a party he created last year at Pride, called “STUNTSZ,” which he describes as “a queer party for everyone.” The party puts a focus on diversity and features many transgender people of color serving as DJs and in other roles. Tickets for the STUNTSZ Pride event — which takes place on June 26 at Under the K Bridge Park at Gardener Avenue on Thomas Street in Brooklyn — are available through Eventbrite.
While nightlife has made a resurgence, others are continuing to struggle on a day-to-day basis. Edgerson believes the city can learn a thing or two from the experiences of those who have faced adversity in the city.
For one, he believes the city needs to be more relaxed in its prosecution of fare-beating on the subway system — especially because people are often not hopping the turnstiles because they want to, but because they have no other choice.
“There are a lot of queer youth who are unhoused and cannot afford to take the train,” he said. “Having cops at the turnstiles is really unethical. I think we need to figure out ways we can support queer unhoused youth to get from point A to point B.”
Edgerson acknowledged the programs in existence to help people pay for subway fare, but he said there is a need for more avenues of assistance in that regard.
He further stressed that the hardships people are experiencing have been exacerbated during the pandemic era — and those needs are constantly changing. One of the best ways to support queer people, he said, is to ask them what they need.
“I’m no longer in that situation, but I just want to see queer people thrive,” he said. “We should talk more with them.”
Edgerson’s thought process on that issue is similar to the one he takes when he approaches his work in nightlife — and that’s to make sure people are represented, seen, and respected. Edgerson hopes he can mentor other people who are coming of age and finding their way in life in much the same way as he did when he arrived in the Big Apple for the first time.
“The emphasis is to make sure everyone has a seat at the table,” he said.