The coronavirus nearly canceled this holiday giveaway tradition.By Royce Jones

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Scrutinized by family, Vicki, otherwise known in the drag scene as Victoria Pope, is used to spending the holiday without any subjects.

“Giving people gifts and not giving me a gift or saying Merry Christmas to me,” said Pope.

Like many in the LGBTQ+ community, Brewer’s Hotel and Bar along Liberty Avenue in Lawrenceville has become this Queen’s second home.

And for the first time in a long time, Pope received a Christmas gift this year.

“I got a little teary eyed because it means something to me to open it because it’s a gift. Whatever it is, I don’t care what it is, it’s a gift,” said Pope. “It just makes me feel so happy inside. So happy inside.”

Carol Held, the owner of Brewer’s Hotel, has been hosting this holiday giveaway for years, offering warm meals and presents to those whose families turned them away.

“A lot of these people are good people. And I would never turn my back on any of them,” said Held.

But, because of coronavirus, the tradition was nearly canceled.

“I’m like nope. I’m gonna find a way, whatever I have to do,” said Held.

And she sure did.

This year, the meals and more than 80 presents are to go.

Held said her determination stems from her father, the original owner of the bar, who never turned his back on the community even during their darkest hours.

“People who lived upstairs had AIDS during the 80s and they were sick. So my dad would feed them and sometimes pay for their medicines,” Held told KDKA.

The actions of this bar owner, teaching everyone, a little compassion, caring and acceptance can go a long way.