“Making a wig and heels political…” Notes (Ella)

Josh Rivera & David Oliver. “Making a wig and heels political: Black drag queens rally support for Black Lives Matter and Pride.” (June 2020) USA TODAY. Retrieved 11/27/2020 from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/13/why-drag-important-part-black-lives-matter/3160038001/

  • “Jo Mama’s friends warned her not to protest against police brutality while dressed in drag. If something happened, they argued, people could grab items off of her, or she could become a target. “So I went in drag on purpose. Kind of in defiance, to be like, ‘You’re going see me,’” the Chicago queen said. “I’m going to be present. You can’t miss me and you’re going to hear my voice.”” (Rivera & Oliver)
  • “For Bob the Drag Queen, winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 8, the movement is “compounded by a lot of things. Pandemic, people have been living in their homes without income for almost three months. “I can just easily see how that would put someone at their wit’s end.” Bob, 33, has been directing her more than 1.2 million Instagram followers and 421,000 Twitter followers to resources on how to be an effective ally and help drive legislative change.” (Rivera & Oliver)
  • “At a time when peaceful protesters have been attacked and gassed by police officers and National Guards members, many Black drag queens, who can stand out even in large crowds, understand that they are putting themselves at risk by advocating loudly for change. But the need to fight against systemic racism and discrimination outweighs those risks, they said. They are building on a storied history of Black drag queens squaring off against violence to demand civil rights. In 1969, bar patrons and neighborhood residents in New York City’s Greenwich Village rioted and protested after police raided the Stonewall Inn. The uprising that unfolded across six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the popular gay bar is heralded as the catalyst for LGBTQ rights in the United States. And while no one is really sure who threw the first brick, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, pioneering transgender activists and drag performers of color who were at the riots, have been credited for being pivotal figures in the uprising and the fight for LGBTQ rights. After the riots, Johnson and Rivera advocated on behalf of those affected by HIV and AIDS, and LGBTQ homeless youth, founding the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries in New York, a group that provided support to poor young people shunned by their families.” (Rivera & Oliver)
  • “Many LGBTQ leaders have historically overlooked Black LBGTQ people’s unique experiences and role in advancing civil rights in the U.S., said Earl Fowlkes Jr., president and CEO of the Center For Black Equity, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., focused on economic and social equity for Black LGBTQ people. Fowlkes said the Stonewall protests were “a reaction from gender non-comforming individuals who were sick of the racism from the police department, and tired from the racism they were seeing from the LGBTQ community.”” (Rivera & Oliver)
  • ““My fear is that some of the more insensitive leaders from the Pride organizations would still have these marches despite what’s going on and there would be a further rift between the LGBTQ community and the Black community,” Fowlkes added. That was the case for Los Angeles Pride, one of the nation’s largest annual Pride celebrations, which announced last week it would hold a “solidarity march” in support of Black Lives Matter-led protests and asked police to staff the event. But the organizers did not reach out to any Black Lives Matter activists before announcing the decision, raising questions about whether the Pride event was putting Black people in danger of police violence and ignoring their needs.” (Rivera & Oliver)
  • [Miss Toto] “She tries to make her shows relevant to what’s going on in the world by “stacking” them with Black performers and having donations funneled toward organizations working on racial inequality, including: The Bail Fund, combating mass incarceration, Contigo Fund, providing funds to organizations helping LGBTQ Latinxs, and the Equal Justice Initiative, working on mass incarceration and excessive punishment.” (Rivera & Oliver)
  • “Many Black drag queens supporting the movement are balancing whether they should go out and protest or risk getting coronavirus. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues taking the lives of LGBTQ Americans, especially those of color, it is leaving a population already vulnerable to health care and employment discrimination suffering from high job losses and a growing rate of positive cases, according to preliminary data collected from multiple LGBTQ advocacy groups.” (Rivera & Oliver)
  • “Many Black drag queens are also encouraging fans to support Black businesses and examining their own behaviors – including their social media presence. “If you can’t find a single person of color in the first five photos, then you have a problem. That looks like it could be a symptom of racism. You need to examine why that is,” Jo Mama said.” (Rivera & Oliver)

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