Drag Queens Visit White House to Promote LGBTQ+ Rights Amid Anti-Drag Bills

Eight drag queens from RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 9 gathered at the White House to promote LGBTQ+ rights amid a surge in anti-drag performance bills. The queens emphasized the importance of drag culture and its impact on LGBTQ+ rights, sharing their experiences with safety concerns while performing in the US.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Drag Queens Visit White House to Promote LGBTQ+ Rights Amid Anti-Drag Bills

Drag Queens Visit White House to Promote LGBTQ+ Rights Amid Anti-Drag Bills

On May 6, 2024, eight drag queens from RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 9 gathered at the White House to promote LGBTQ+ rights amidst a surge in anti-drag performance bills across the United States. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 25 such bills have been proposed, with 14 defeated, 8 introduced, and 2 advancing in 2024. Two states, Tennessee and Montana, have already banned drag performances.

Why this matters: The rise of anti-drag bills threatens not only the livelihoods of drag performers but also the broader LGBTQ+ community, as they contribute to a climate of fear and discrimination. If left unchecked, these bills could embolden further legislative attacks on marginalized groups, eroding their hard-won rights and protections.

The queens, including Angeria Paris VanMicheals, Gottmik, Jorgeous, Nina West, Plastique Tiara, Roxxxy Andrews, Shannel, and Vanessa Vanjie, emphasized the importance of drag culture and its impact on LGBTQ+ rights. "Drag is like being a superhero... Drag saved my life, and it could do the same thing for others," said Jorgeous. Nina West added, "Traveling for work looks different when there are congressional efforts to ban your art form and profession."

The queens shared their experiences with safety concerns while performing in the US. Shannel mentioned that safety and staffing now play a part in the bookings she accepts, while Vanessa Vanjie recounted an incident in Tennessee where rideshare requests were consistently canceled, making her feel unsafe. Gottmik, the first out transgender man to compete on Drag Race, highlighted the criminalization of trans people in 13 countries and the importance of fighting legislation against drag and LGBTQ+ individuals.

The queens expressed a sense of duty to use their platforms to fight against political attacks on their community. "There's a responsibility specifically right now... to show up and support" local drag shows, said Nina West. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre urged the queens to "pay attention to what's going on because our freedoms will be taken away."

This season's theme, "queens save the world," aims to showcase the power of drag, with each queen competing on behalf of their chosen charity. The charities represented include the National Alliance of Mental Illness, The Trevor Project, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the ASPCA, Trans Lifeline, National Black Justice Coalition, and Miracle of Love.

The drag makeover show "We're Here" has been traveling to small towns throughout the country, helping members of the local LGBTQ community assert their identity and visibility through gender-bending performances. The show's premise is that queer liberation hasn't extended as far as it could, and the current political environment has made it harder for people to be out and proud. "I would never have predicted that four seasons later, it's actually harder to be out and proud," said Priyanka, one of the show's new cast members.

The gathering of drag queens at the White House and the ongoing efforts of shows like "We're Here" highlight the crucial role of drag culture in promoting LGBTQ+ visibility and fighting against discrimination. As anti-drag performance bills continue to be proposed and advanced across the country, the queens' message of resilience, pride, and the transformative power of drag resonates more than ever.

Key Takeaways

  • 8 RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 9 queens gathered at the White House to promote LGBTQ+ rights.
  • 25 anti-drag performance bills have been proposed in the US, with 2 already banning drag performances.
  • Drag culture is under threat, contributing to a climate of fear and discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
  • The queens emphasized the importance of drag culture and its impact on LGBTQ+ rights and visibility.
  • The gathering highlights the crucial role of drag culture in fighting discrimination and promoting LGBTQ+ visibility.