The art of drag has become a target. With Pride Month nigh, performers are organizing to fight back

May 28, 2024, 9:24 PM

“Drag is joy, but it’s under attack. Our very existence, our self-expression, our art — all of it is being threatened. And we’ve had enough.”

That’s the opening salvo of Qommittee, a group of drag performers banding together to protect and promote their art form, as it announced its formation ahead of June’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month.

“We’ve always had to fight tooth and nail for our place in this world,” the group said in a news release Wednesday. “But now, we’re also battling a tidal wave of hate — doxxing, harassment, death threats, armed protests, bombings, and even shootings.”

Qommittee consists of about 10 drag performers nationwide who have experienced, directly or indirectly, threats, harassment or violence related to their art form. One had a venue firebombed in Ohio; one performed at Club Q in Colorado Springs and helped victims the night of the shooting there that killed five people; and one worked at Club Q and at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, where a gunman killed 49 people in 2016.

Qommittee says it hopes, among other things, to connect drag performers and communities lacking in local support to resources including legal aid and therapy. It may also help performers and venues navigate the business.

The group is already working to create dialogue between its members and local law enforcement agencies, organizers said.

“The Qommittee stands as a kind of a central hub for other communities across the country, the performance communities across the country, to find resources to help them, whether it is negotiating with venues or … helping defend against the many protests against drag shows that we’ve seen,” said Qommittee President B Williams, a drag king who performs in Washington, D.C., as Blaq Dinamyte.

In recent years, conservative activists and politicians have complained about what they call the “sexualization” or “grooming” of children by drag performers, often via popular drag story hours, in which performers read age-appropriate materials to children, or drag brunches, whose venues generally warn patrons of material unsuitable for children.

There is a dearth of evidence that drag performers harm children. Just last week, a jury awarded more than $1 million to an Idaho performer who accused a far-right blogger of defaming him by falsely claiming he exposed himself to a crowd that included children.

Still, the idea of drag as a threat has caught on as another form of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. Opponents have even shown up to drag events with guns. At least five states have passed laws in recent years restricting performances in some fashion, but courts in some of them have put enforcement on hold.

As Pride Month approaches, it’s important to remember that drag is not just an art, but also an industry that fosters entrepreneurship and creates jobs, said community organizer Scott Simpson, who helped connect the members of Qommittee. The fans should get involved, too, he said.

“The time to really come together is now. The time to come together is when we’re having joyful moments together,” said Simpson, who also works for the unaffiliated Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “I mean, drag’s the revolution. And we want to keep the revolution going.”


Associated Press

Her dying husband worried she’d have money troubles. Then she won the lottery

FREEPORT, Pa. (AP) — In the weeks before his death, Karen Coffman’s husband worried she might have money troubles after he was gone. But two weeks before he died in April of complications from a brain tumor, the Pennsylvania woman bought a scratch-off state lottery ticket that netted her $1 million. “When I told him […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

You don’t think corn dogs are haute cuisine? These chefs, using alligator sausage, beg to differ.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Stefani De Palma, an award-winning chef and head of the a team vying to represent the Americas in a French culinary competition in January, knew she wanted her team’s work to feature flavors of her native California. The challenge at the Bocuse d’Or Americas competition this week in New Orleans was […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

High school president writes notes thanking fellow seniors — 180 of them

Emily Post would be proud. A high school class president in Massachusetts who gave a commencement speech wanted to recognize all of his fellow graduates. So he wrote them personal thank-you notes presented at the ceremony — 180 to be exact. “I wish I could’ve acknowledged you all, but there was simply not enough time,” […]

3 days ago

Associated Press

Silicon Valley-backed voter plan for new California city qualifies for November ballot

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Silicon Valley-backed initiative to build a green city for up to 400,000 people in the San Francisco Bay Area has qualified for the Nov. 5 ballot, elections officials said Tuesday. Solano County’s registrar of voters said in a statement that the office verified a sufficient sampling of signatures. California Forever, […]

4 days ago

Associated Press

New York considers regulating what children see in social media feeds

New York lawmakers on Tuesday said they were finalizing legislation that would allow parents to block their children from getting social media posts curated by a platform’s algorithm, a move to rein in feeds that critics argue keep young users glued to their screens. Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James have been […]

11 days ago

Associated Press

New Orleans plans to spiff up as host of next year’s Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans hosts its 11th Super Bowl next year and the preparations involve showcasing the city’s heralded architecture, music, food and celebratory culture while addressing its myriad challenges, including crime, pockets of homelessness and an antiquated drainage system. Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry joined Mayor LaToya Cantrell and a host of other […]

11 days ago

The art of drag has become a target. With Pride Month nigh, performers are organizing to fight back