‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ alumni launch nation’s first PAC led by drag performers

Six veteran drag performers and former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestants on Thursday announced the launch of Drag PAC, the nation’s first political action committee led by drag artists.

Founding members include drag powerhouses Jinkx Monsoon, BenDeLaCreme, Peppermint and Monét X Change. The PAC, they said, is their response to rising anti-LGBTQ hate and violence and legislation that threatens to roll back their rights.

“We as queer people have to recognize that we are part of a community and the reason that we have the ease of life that we have now is because so many people worked for decades to make that happen. It’s our job to keep things moving in the right direction,” said BenDeLaCreme, a two-time contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

“A lot of this political rhetoric does have real life effects and consequences on people of multiple marginalized identities,” said Peppermint, who placed second on the ninth season of the Emmy-winning reality series.

The performer and transgender rights activist made her Broadway debut in 2018 in The Go-Go’s-inspired musical “Head Over Heels,” becoming the first trans woman to originate a lead role.

“Each time people who are attacking the queer community come back to the table it’s sharper, and stronger, and more impactful, and it hurts more each time,” she said.

Drag PAC’s launch comes amidst a tidal wave of legislation targeting LGBTQ people across the country. More than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills were filed this year in state legislatures, according to the ACLU, and 39 became law.

In Congress, Republican-backed proposals would ban transgender student-athletes from competing in accordance with their gender identity and unravel new transgender student protections instituted by the Biden administration. Amendments added this month by House Republicans to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would bar funds from being used for gender-affirming health care and drag events and prevent military facilities from flying LGBTQ Pride flags.

Drag performers earlier this week met with House lawmakers on either side of the aisle to lobby for the Equality Act, federal legislation that would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes, as well as the Transgender Bill of Rights, a landmark resolution that would strengthen civil rights protections for trans and nonbinary Americans.

Those conversations were largely productive, drag artists Jiggly Caliente, Brigitte Bandit and Joey Jay told The Hill this week.

“I feel like I was able to shed some light on areas that maybe they didn’t quite think of, and it was fun to see their gears turn a little bit,” Joey Jay, who competed on the 13th season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” said of the House Republicans she met with. “I even got some questions from them. They were taking some notes, and they were really honest.”

“Drag queens have always kind of been our community leaders in the queer community, and they’re some of our most public-facing and boldest and bravest community members,” said Dylan Bulkeley-Krane, one of Drag PAC’s organizers. “Just existing as a drag queen is showing political resistance and turning gender norms on their head.”

Drag PAC’s primary focus through the end of the November elections will be mobilizing Gen Z voters, Bulkeley-Krane said, leveraging the drag stars’ large social media platforms to drive their fans to the polls. The group plans to roll out a series of lighthearted videos that make the election process more palatable and engaging to young LGBTQ people.

“Have you seen how invigorated ‘Drag Race’ fans are?” Bulkeley-Krane said. “That is our community, and it needs to be harnessed and driven in the right direction so that queer people across the country don’t have to live in fear.”

Endorsements of political candidates are likely to come further down the road. “For now, we’re taking our time with that,” he said. The PAC also plans to recruit more local drag performers as it grows.

“We’re in the middle of something historic,” Monét X Change, winner of the fourth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” says in a video released this week by Drag PAC. “This is the most important election cycle for queer people’s rights and freedoms in our lifetime.”

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