RuPaul, the face of the “Drag Race” franchise, has responded to the recent wave of anti-drag and anti-trans legislation introduced by Republican lawmakers in the U.S.
In an Instagram video on Wednesday, the Emmy winner called the bills “a classic distraction technique” and urged Americans to register to vote.
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“Hey, look over there! A classic distraction technique, distracting us away from the real issues that they were voted into office to focus on: jobs, healthcare, keeping our children safe from harm at their own school,” RuPaul said. “But we know that bullies are incompetent at solving real issues. They look for easy targets so they can give the impression of being effective. They think our love, our light, our laughter and our joy are signs of weakness. But they’re wrong because that is our strength.”
RuPaul continued, “Drag queens are the Marines of the queer movement. Don’t get it twisted and don’t be distracted. Register to vote so we can get these stunt queens out of office and put some smart people with real solutions into government. And by the way, a social media post has never been as powerful as a registered vote.”
The response comes as many conservative legislators around the country attempt to ban children from drag performances, bar drag shows from occurring in public places and brand them as adult-oriented businesses. Tennessee, Kentucky and Montana are three of the states moving forward with bills banning public drag performances.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed into law a bill that goes into effect on July 1 that bans gender-affirming health care for minors. He also signed a bill limiting drag show performances in Tennessee. While it doesn’t implicitly say the word “drag,” the bill forbids drag performances by male or female impersonators who, as the law defines it, provide entertainment that is “harmful to minors.”
The attacks don’t stop there. At least 11 state legislatures are threatening to restrict or prohibit drag show performances as the GOP continues to ramp up efforts to spread the narrative that drag queens are predators.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 14 contestant Kerri Colby is just one of the many queens speaking out about the hate coming from the GOP. In an essay for Variety, Colby wrote, “It has been extremely distressing to see the political attacks recently, not just on the LGBTQ community, but also specifically on the art of drag.” She said, “Bills like these create more stigma, discrimination and ultimately violence against LGBTQ folks — particularly transgender and nonbinary people.”
In a video for GLAAD, Jackie Cox and Sasha Colby were joined by other queens from the series speaking out as part of efforts to spread positivity. Cox, a Season 12 contestant said, “We’re going to keep fighting this fight. So stay strong, especially if you’re in one of those states where all these things are happening. I’m here to tell you that you can still do drag, you can still be your true self, whatever that is. Showcase your art, showcase your gender. Even as you’re seeing the negative things even as all the hate happens, you have to shine that light shining bright for yourself.”
Additionally, World of Wonder has created the first-ever Drag Defense Fund with a donation from MTV and “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The Drag Defense Fund supports the ACLU’s LGBTQ rights work.
Chase Strangio, deputy director for Transgender Justice at the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project said, “Families, communities and transgender people ourselves are working tirelessly against a relentless assault on transgender people’s basic freedom and rights. Across the history of the queer community, our art and our joy has been censored, restricted, and criminalized and those pillars of our community are once again coming under attack. We’re thankful for the support of the Drag Defense Fund and are committed to protecting drag performers from these baseless and unconstitutional attacks on their art.”
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