Drag Queen History Hour | Crooked Media
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June 27, 2022
What A Day
Drag Queen History Hour

In This Episode

  • The Supreme Court issued more rulings on Monday. There have also been several legal challenges to the trigger laws set to go into effect in states like Louisiana and Utah once the court overturned Roe last Friday.
  • Today is the 53rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. In honor of the drag queens of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera who were central to the fight for LGBTQ equality, we walk through the history of drag and politics.
  • We talk to actor and activist Terence Smith about his iconic presidential campaign as his drag persona, Joan Jett Blakk. RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Peppermint tells us about how she’s used her platform to advocate for the queer community. And Taylor Alxndr of Southern Fried Queer Pride explains how they use drag as a tool for political organizing in their community.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/

 

 

Transcript

 

Gideon Resnick: It is Tuesday, June 28th. I’m Gideon Resnick.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day, featuring news that hits harder than a gentle hand does on Rudy Giuliani’s back.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yes. Don’t know if you saw, but Rudy claims he was assaulted in a grocery store this Sunday–more so, he was touched. WAD tries to give you headlines in the same way Rudy experiences light touching.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. Don’t think about it too much. Just accept it. On today’s show, I am going to take over most of the episode to revisit the political roots of drag, as Pride Month wraps up. That’s right, drag goes deeper than just RuPaul’s Drag Race.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yes. Stick around for that. But first, the Supreme Court issued more rulings yesterday, including one pertaining to Joseph Kennedy, a former public high school football coach in Washington State. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled in favor of Kennedy, saying that his right to kneel and pray on the field after games was, in fact, protected by the First Amendment. This comes after the court ruled last week that the State of Maine could not exclude religious schools from a tuition program. So, no, you are not just sensing a pattern here. We’ll have a couple of links to more on this story in our show notes to explain it more in depth.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, Gideon, I love God like the next person, but I need them to calm down. Now, getting back to the fallout from the court last week, there has been a flurry of legal responses and ramifications in a number of states that had so-called trigger laws set to go into effect once Roe was overturned. Can you walk us through some of those?

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it is happening really quickly. So quickly, in fact, there might be quite a bit more in the minutes and hours to come– but as we record on Monday night around 930 Eastern, here are some examples from the last 24 hours or so. So in Louisiana, a judge temporarily blocked the state from imposing its own trigger abortion ban. Abortion providers in the state had said that the law is, quote unquote, “constitutionally vague.” And there is a hearing set for next week now. According to reporting from The New York Times, at least one of the clinics involved in the petition is set to actually continue operating for now. In Utah, the state’s Planned Parenthood Association filed a lawsuit this past weekend to block Utah’s trigger law. On Monday, a judge similarly temporarily blocked enforcement of the ban as a result of this suit, which is set to last for two weeks. In Ohio, the local ACLU and Planned Parenthood have similar plans for a suit. And a number of providers in other states, including Mississippi, which was at the center of the SCOTUS ruling, have also gone to court already. Meanwhile, lawmakers in California voted to put an amendment on the November ballot that would enshrine abortion and contraceptive rights into the state’s constitution. So Tre’vell, that is just a little bit of what’s happened at the Supreme Court and in the states since the overturning of Roe. Tomorrow, we’re going to get into more on where things stand with Kelley Robinson, the executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. And there is so much more there to talk about. And interestingly enough, right after the Supreme Court overturned Roe, it was Pride weekend in many cities across the country, considering several of those festivals and marches ended up taking on a somber and even more political tone.

 

[voice] I am afraid with what just happened, and how easy it happened, that they might come for us and come for our rights again.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That’s one New York marcher who talked to Reuters, and many more people talked about how important it is to bring politics back into Pride, because conservatives aren’t just fighting to roll back abortion rights. They’ve also targeted birth control, access, marriage equality, and even drag queens. Take a listen:

 

[clip] Well, I’ve seen a lot of things in life, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything quite this hideous. In America, in Dallas, Texas: this nonsense. So-called drag queens with kids.

 

Gideon Resnick: The nonsense is the clip. He’s describing where he’s saying, himself.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So-called drag queens.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Wow. I’m so sorry for all the damage caused, of course.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. And sorry to everyone who had to hear that, but because today is the 53rd anniversary of the Stonewall riots, we’re going to do something different, something fun, hopefully empowering, with a very special episode to wrap up Pride Month.

 

Gideon Resnick: And because I was made to listen to that, I’m going to step aside, and let you have the mic for a while, Tre’vell. Have fun.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Give me the mic, because the category is Drag, darling. Okay? I’m going to walk the WAD squad through the history of drag and politics from its past:

 

[voice] Dressing up as a woman as the ultimate [clears throat] to their patriarchy

 

Tre’vell Anderson: To its present:

 

[speaker] It’s meant the world to me to have a platform that is further reaching than what it would have been had I not been on a show like Drag Race.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And it’s future:

 

[speaker] Drag can be so much more than what we have right now. And it’s a beautiful thing.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So let’s get started with the Stonewall riots. Though there were plenty of demonstrations across the country pushing back against anti-LGBTQ behavior by law enforcement, it’s the Stonewall Riots that are credited with transforming the LGBTQ rights movement. It was there that Queer folks and street kids and drag artists, especially drag queens of color, were central to the fight for equality. Let me take you back to that day. [music plays] It’s June 28th, 1969, in New York City. There’s this gay bar in lower Manhattan called the Stonewall Inn. Somebody throwing back a Jack and Coke, I’m sure. Somebody is doing a vodka cranberry–my drink of choice. And in the early hours of the morning, police raided the bar. Now, this kind of practice was common at the time. Police would often break up parties and arrest people for wearing clothing that didn’t align with their sex on their IDs. We call those the “three article rule.” But on this particular day, the bar patrons and many other community members who had gathered outside the bar after the raid decided to fight back. Take a listen to someone who was there. This is Craig Rodwell. He’s a gay rights activist, credited as one of the leaders of the movement before and after Stonewall. Here he is, remembering it months later to a documentarian:

 

[clip of Craig Rodwell] I was on my way home from a friend’s house and a crowd was gathering out in front and there was a paddy wagon pulled up and a few people being taken out. It started with a few coins and pebbles being thrown at the police, and then the police retreated into the Stonewall, and chants of “gay power” and “get the mafia out the bars.” And then after the police barricaded themselves inside, the riot police started moving up Christopher, breaking up the crowd, which had really become a very angry crowd. Hundreds of bottles and rocks–there was one window left in the whole place after about 10 minutes, I think they thought the people would just go home or run, especially since they were gay people. They’re not used to gay people standing up at all.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That was kind of how things were, right? And so for the next four days, the riots, or the Stonewall Uprisings, as they’re sometimes called, they continued with more Queer folks, more trans folks standing up against all of this behavior. Two icons on the frontlines were Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. They were trans rights advocates, and both Marsha and Sylvia identified as drag queens. To me, that is all the proof we need to identify the vital role drag artists can have in these social, cultural and political battles. And it’s because of their work and the many, many others at Stonewall that the momentum for LGBTQ rights kept going, so much so that the year after that:.

 

[crowd chants] Gay power. Gay power. Gay power.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That’s the sound of protesters in New York in 1970, chanting on the first anniversary of Stonewall. That was among the very first Pride parades in the country. Others took place that same year in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. And every year since, Queer and trans people take to the streets in June in celebration of Pride, and to commemorate that fateful night. Now, knowing that drag artists were key to getting all of that going might be surprising for some of you whose knowledge of drag only goes as far as this:

 

[song] RuPaul Drag Race, start your engines.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, I know some of you know that song. We’ll get to it momentarily. But these days, drag seems like it’s everywhere. It’s on TV, it’s in bars, it’s in clubs, restaurants, and more and more people are doing drag, watching it and paying for it all over the world. But when Marsha and Sylvia were doing it, it was a criminal offense that could get them arrested. So I want you to know more about what it was like to do drag back in the day when it wasn’t as widely accepted as it is now. Let me introduce you to Terrence Smith. Long ago, he was a legendary Chicago drag queen known as Joan Jett Black. Terrence began doing drag in the seventies not too long after the Stonewall riots. He was heavily involved in political organizing for the LGBTQ community throughout his career, and he knew early on that his very existence as a Black gay man and a drag queen was inherently political. The day Terrence turned 35, he not only became eligible to run for president, but he actually launched a campaign for president as his drag persona, Joan Jett Black. Terrence shares a bit of his story in the short documentary, “The Beauty President”, which we will link to in the show notes, but he’s also here with me now. Terrence, I want to ask you to explain to all the unaware who may be listening: why is drag a political.

 

Terrence Smith: We live in a patriarchy. Anything that takes away from that, and dressing up as a woman is the ultimate [clears throat] to their patriarchy. It’s the ultimate anti-patriarchy in a way.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: At what point did you decide that your drag persona as Joan Jett Black could be a vehicle for your political activism?

 

Terrence Smith: When [unclear] asked me to run for mayor of Chicago, I was like, Wow, that’s, I’m going to do it. That even though it’s satire, I want to make it seem as real as I possibly can. So that meant talking about the issues in a way that nobody else could. Well, it worked. And in Chicago, they were starving for something different to talk about, and then suddenly there’s this black drag saying, I want to be mayor. And they weren’t nasty. They were like, This is hilarious.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You mentioned you ran for mayor in Chicago, and then you followed that up the year later running for president of the United States. You were, you know, beat out by some guy named Bill Clinton.

 

Terrence Smith: At least I wasn’t beat up by Bill Clinton! [laughs]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Could you talk to us a little bit about making the decision after the mayor campaign to run for president, and the types of policies that you were advocating for?

 

Terrence Smith: Queer Nation was about visibility. You know, if they could see us openly, they would beat us up less. And they told us that anybody could be president of the United States. I figured, well, okay, let’s see. You know, I was going to take the military budget, education budgets, and switched them. Nobody would have to pay for student loans and medicine, you know, that would have been taken care of. I mentioned, I, not only would I fire the police, but I would hire dikes on bikes. It’s interesting that one of, a couple them have happened since. You know, legalizing weed. Ooh! And I get to claim this right now. One of the things that I promised I would do if I were elected president was I would give every woman in the country like three days off a month, A, because they need that. They have that montly visitor. They just made that a law in Spain. Now, I can say that they heard me say it. I have no proof, but I said it, and now it’s a law in Spain.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So today we have RuPaul’s Drag Race. One of the main ways, right, that folks know drag, know drag queens. We see drag queens in, you know, they’re on daytime television, you know, being interviewed and stuff now. What are some of your thoughts on that like generational shift that we see today in terms of how people regard drag? And I’m wondering if it gives you any hope for more progress towards LGBTQ rights?

 

Terrence Smith: Definitely. I think the world has really opened up a lot. Now, you have ten-year old boys in drag and their parents encourage them. I’ve met more people that say, I don’t consider myself male or female. I mean, I’m always like, wow, really? That’s great. And I really like that. Young people, younger and younger, are discovering their self. And the first thing they do is they’re proud of it and they want to tell people. And you couldn’t say that years ago. I mean, I don’t know, I don’t know if we would say that years ago.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Well, Terrence, thanks so much for being on What A Day. And in a moment, I’m going to tell you all about what drag is like today, and how it can get back to its political roots in the future. But first, we’ve got some bills to pay. We got to keep the lights on around here. So here are some ads.

 

[ad break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Welcome back WAD squad. Tre’vell here, riding solo in this jiggy jungle through the wonderful world of drag. Before the break, I gave you a history lesson about what drag activism was like before today, but let’s talk about what might be for many of you, your first introduction to drag.

 

[clip of RuPaul] Racers, start your engines. And may the best drag queen win.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: In case you’re wondering, I’m Team Shea Coulee, but ever since RuPaul’s Drag Race debuted on TV in 2009, the award-winning reality competition show has grown exponentially. And because of it, drag queens have walked the Oscars red carpet, they’re in major fashion campaigns, and RuPaul himself has won a whopping 11 Emmys, with more likely on the way. We needed to know what it’s like to be on that national stage, which has come to define drag. I just had to talk to a Ru-girl myself.

 

[music plays]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That was, of course, the one and only Miss Peppermint, who was on Season 9. Peppermint is a drag performer from New York City, where she’s a local legend. She was one of the first openly trans people to compete on the show, and she was Broadway’s first out trans woman to originate a lead role in the musical Head Over Heels. But she’s not just a performer, she’s also a drag activist. For instance, she’s the ACLU’s first Artist Ambassador for Trans Justice, working with the organization to combat anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ state legislation. So Peppermint, it’s a huge honor for you and for me, for us to be together here on What A Day. Can you start by telling us about the history of what drag was like for you before you did the show?

 

Miss Peppermint: Contrary to how well drag is documented, everything from the make up, the personalities on film and television and the Internet and social media today, it was quite underground just 10, 20 years ago. Like a lot of queer history, if you will, it wasn’t that well documented, except for, like, the stories of people that were probably drunk in some bar that are going to retell it. You can go back and do your research on your history, but you’re not going to see a video of it. So that was good and bad. Bad because it’s, you know, future generations will just have to believe what we said when we said, Oh, she levitated off the ground, honey! But it also meant that person could do enough drugs to levitate off the ground and not go to jail, because nobody was filming it, right? And so when we say it was political and these people were like being revolutionary and being activists just by doing what they were doing, it literally was that. I think that notion carried from then, through, of course, into the ’70s and ’80s with the AIDS epidemic, and drag entertainers, naturally, if you were doing drag, you were performing somewhere and you had a platform and you knew how to use your voice and speak in a way that people would listen. Naturally that kind of thing goes hand-in-hand when your people are suffering or are being discriminated against, you’re going to hopefully use your platform to effect some change. And so I think that is what we’re hearing when we hear about Stonewall. Those are the legacies that have been passed on to drag entertainers today.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I’m so glad you mentioned that. With this particular political moment that we are in, with the anti-trans bills, the Don’t Say Gay Bills, the other foolishness going around, what has being on Drag Race and now being able to like spread your messages with the platforms that you have, what does that meant to you considering what we see in the political establishment right now?

 

Miss Peppermint: I’m actually in a situation where what I have to say is valued past just me and my girlfriends. Because there is a moment in time you’re only going to hear what a Black trans woman was saying if you were a Black trans woman sitting in a room with other Black trans women, because nobody else cared. Had I been doing this 40, 50 years ago, I probably would have been in hiding somewhere, just fighting for the right to be able to walk outside without being arrested in the clothing that I’m wearing. It’s meant the world to me to have a platform that is further-reaching than what it would have been had I not been on show like Drag Race. I’ve had many opportunities open up since then, film and TV things. There was definitely people who said, Girl, don’t even mention politics, don’t even talk about anything serious. Go out there and do that lip sync Whitney Houston song, collect your coins, and go home and just don’t worry about it. That didn’t work for me. I’m grateful that my platform was inflated at the same time as people were beginning to think very intersectional, not only in terms of identity, but also understanding that race and politics are infused in entertainment. Drag Queens do you have an opinion about these things, as queer folks who are positioned in a very gender-variant way are often targets of discrimination and all these types of things, even if you’re just trying to do that lip sync number. It’s almost impossible not to want to deal with those kind of things.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Could you talk a little bit more about like why it has been and remains like important for you to stay as like, politically vocal as you have been in your art?

 

Miss Peppermint: I mean, I think I’m just born that way. At a very early age, knowing that I was extremely swishy and being constantly corrected, and I just kind of knew that there was something about me and how I connect with the world that some people see as a threat or wrong. And so it’s not a surprise to me that I’m more engaged in that stuff as an adult. There’s, Susan Stryker, an author, says that queer folks are minorities, are oftentimes more politically active because we have the least to lose and the most to gain. Feeling that we needed to be involved in that is certainly a page–especially me being a Black person and a Queer person–a page out of the civil rights era protests and being politically active. Then, of course, in the ’80s with the AIDS epidemic, seeing folks like ActUp, how they would engage in their activism and then fuse art into it. We know that arts and entertainment is where most people are going to learn. Knowing that it’s really important for me to use my platform that can reach all those people to talk about the things that Queer and trans people, that Black Queer trans people can face, that they wouldn’t have any other opportunity to hear. You know, there are definitely some gays right now sitting around saying, Honey, I don’t care about Roe v. Wade. I’m a gay man. I can’t get pregnant. But when we really take another look at Roe v. Wade as a Queer issue as well, we are we can’t sit down. And so the same thing certainly that we’ve witnessed when it comes to conversations about race and the Queer community, folks who are disabled, all different religions and any type of way that people can identify, is valid and crucial to contributing to the conversation. I do feel the need to march alongside those people because I’m going to call on them to march alongside us.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Do you feel like there is a need to reintroduce politics to our, like, broader mainstream understanding of drag in any particular way?

 

Miss Peppermint: Yes, I think if there’s anyone who needs to be reminded that drag is and can and by nature just definitely is, political, it’s a lot of the newer performers. Which I think eventually we’ll hopefully naturally come around to that anyway. I think certainly both for the spectators of drag, they know it’s political because of how it makes them feel. They’re like, Oh, this is really interesting and looks a lot of fun, but I know I shouldn’t be clapping for this or I know I shouldn’t be looking at this because it’s, I’ve been told it was wrong. Surely that goes through somebody’s head when they’re watching a drag show.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. So we are in this political moment. You mentioned the, you know, over 300 anti-trans, anti-Queer bills that are going around in state legislatures. What is keeping you smiling in this moment? What is bringing you joy this Pride month, even amid all of that foolishness?

 

Miss Peppermint: The thought that we are going to get through this, and that’s kind of what I tell myself. It’s like, yes, it’s bad, but it’s not going to instant, we’re not going to just drop dead instantly. I know that a lot of these things do threaten the livelihood, if not the lives of many individuals, but we will be there the day after to reconvene and figure out what to do.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I feel like it’s my journalistic duty: the Drag Race girls are listening . . .  would you ever go back on Drag Race?

 

Miss Peppermint: Yeah. You know, honestly, in all honesty, I would. I have been asked before and I wasn’t able to do it because of scheduling. If they ask again, well have to just see, won’t we?

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Well, I am so glad you were able to take some time out of your busy schedule, Peppermint, to join us. And I’m looking forward to your return to the main stage so I can be fully Team Peppermint. Now, what about the tens of thousands of people who do drag in places that aren’t considered gay capitals of the world like Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago, the ones that don’t have the platform that Peppermint and many other Ru-girls do. I want you to meet an amazing one, Taylor Alxndr, a drag performer based in Atlanta. Here they are speaking at a vigil for Black trans lives in 2020.

 

Taylor Alxndr: We are in a time where right now we have no choice but to stand up and fight back. We have no time to be silenced because violence equals violence. I don’t want to have to add more names to a list. I don’t want my family members to be a hashtag. I want my family, and people that I don’t even know, I want them to be here to experience life.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Silence equals violence. Many of you should keep that in mind. Y’all should know that Taylor is the co-founder and current Executive Director of Southern Fried Queer Pride, or, as they call it, SFQP. It’s a nonprofit dedicated to empowering Black and brown Queer and trans folks in, you guessed it, the South. So, Taylor, thanks so much for joining me, because I wanted you to tell the squad about all the kinds of people in your community you’ve been able to help through drag.

 

Taylor Alxndr: I’ve hosted DIY drag fundraisers to get girls on hormones to get top surgeries for folks. I’ve done drag performances in the street to make sure that some people had rent to keep a roof over their head. Every, you know, SFQP festival, there’s always one or like a group of people who come up to me or one of the other organizers, and is just like really, really appreciative, like to the point of like tears sometimes. And seeing people be seen and be held by community just means the world to me. So every time that I’m able to use my art to benefit somebody else and to create a space that maybe wasn’t there, is always something that I feel incredibly grateful to do. Drag can be so much more than what we have right now, and it’s a beautiful thing.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Definitely. Now, the South is, you know, an area where a lot of people associate conservative political values, a lack of acceptance for Queer folks. I’m from South Carolina originally.

 

Taylor Alxndr: Hey.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: All right? I went to school in Atlanta, so I know a little bit of what you’re talking about. You’ve obviously pushed back on this idea through your work. I wonder if you could tell our listeners a little bit about how that perception of the South is like maybe a little true, but also maybe not true.

 

Taylor Alxndr: Definitely in certain parts of the south, especially the rural parts, not so much the more city-based urban areas. You know, there is this, you know, sense of isolation. There is this kind of deeper hardship that a lot of LGBTQ rural people face. But we also have to talk about the amazing communities and people that we have here in the South. You know, the Southeast has the largest population of LGBTQ people in the country. We have our own riots, our own history, our own icons–I mean, so many people that are a part of mainstream Queer culture nowadays come from the south. You know, people like RuPaul herself.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You mentioned Mother Ru, which leads me to ask about, you know, the ways that we’ve seen drag kind of become more mainstream. I think there are a lot of folks who might not readily connect drag to that kind of political organizing history that you talked about already before. And you were recently on Tuck Woodstock’s podcast, Gender Reveal, talking about what you all called the RuPaul Industrial Complex–which I love, okay?–and how the Drag Race franchise has, like, shaped our mainstream conversations about drag for better and for worse, right?

 

Taylor Alxndr: Right.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I wonder if you could walk us through what you mean by that.

 

Taylor Alxndr: As somebody who has been doing drag for over ten years, who has had several friends who have gotten on the television show and been through the whole process, and is somebody who is a working showgirl here in Atlanta having to endure the effect of RuPaul’s Drag Race on our local drag scenes, I think they’re like very good things and they’re very bad things. You know, I think there are really beautiful moments where people are recognizing through Drag Race that drag is multifaceted. They’re understanding that drag is not always sexual. You know, especially when we talk about, you know, Florida and Texas drafting these terrible legislative bills or whatnot to try to bar children from going to see drag shows. I think Drag Race has helped broaden people’s knowledge and ideas about drag. Do I think that Drag Race is feeding the people all the correct information and the most like eclectic and diverse understanding of what drag is? Absolutely not. There’s not a drag king on Drag Race. There’s not a political kind of intent on Drag Race besides like telling people to vote and then putting Nancy Pelosi up there every 5 seconds. You know, so it’s like–

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That paired with the holding of the “Remember to Vote” signs at the end of every episode, that is always read to me as, let’s just say, interesting–but I’m wondering for you, how do you think we can go about reminding folks, right, of the political roots of drag?

 

Taylor Alxndr: I think we just have to be more vocal and unapologetic about it. Like every time they will out that Register to Vote sign at the end of Drag Race, number one, it always feels like an afterthought. Number two, we’re tired of voting. It’s not, it’s not giving what it’s supposed to give. I would love for there to be two signs. If we’re going to have Register to Vote at the end of every episode, let there also be like a Get Involved Locally sign. Like, let’s teach people that yes, you can vote, but you can also do other things, like volunteer for local organizations, not just the nonprofits that get all the grants, like the ones who are actually on the ground effecting change in real Queer and trans communities. I feel like unless there’s another major political upheaval in Queer and trans issues–which seems like every day now when we’re talking about these bills that are being drafted against the lives of trans people and Queer kids–I think the local consumers of Drag see that, but that needs to be brought and dolled up like five notches on the national kind of, like mainstream television front. So that’s a challenge for RuPaul if you’re listening to this. Get dirty, girl. Get dirty.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I know that’s right. I would love to hear what type of advice you might have for young people. Maybe they want to use drag as a political organizing tool, maybe they want to create their own, you know, Queer spaces in their different communities. What advice do you have for the young people?

 

Taylor Alxndr: I think if I could go back to 2014, Taylor, I would remind myself that I had so much power. I think that especially for Queer and trans youth, they’re kind of taught to kind of just wait until they’re accepted or wait until they get of a certain age to do something. And I wish I had taught myself when I was younger, like, you don’t have to wait until you’re 21, 24 to do something. You could do it right now. Sure, it might be messy or it might be chaotic. I mean, whose late teens, early 20s is not chaotic, but I feel like that kind of speaks to the power of of drag. The power of SFQP, so the Southern Fried Queer Pride is that when I first started doing drag when we first started as SFQP, we were scrappy, just Queer kids and artists who like didn’t know what a grant was, didn’t know how to apply for it, didn’t have any major training or understanding in community organizing or how to produce an event. But when you are surrounded by people who have a common goal, I think that’s where the magic happens. And so I would just tell anybody that sometimes the dirtiness, the rawness of what you’re creating is the beauty of it all. And that’s what’s going to get people involved and really attracted and attached to what you’re creating. So don’t be afraid to just do it.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Well, thank you so much, Taylor, for inspiring the folks. WAD squad, let me wrap up this special take over I’ve been doing with this. Terrence, Peppermint, and Taylor might have different stories about how they’ve walked through life in their high heels, but as drag performers, they all carry the legacies of drag queens and trans women of color like Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who helped build the very foundation we stand on today when we talk about LGBTQ rights. Those fights are still going on. We’re only halfway through the year and there are countless Don’t Say Gay bills and heaps of anti-trans legislation, especially against trans women and girls, not to mention attacks against drag queens themselves when they’re just trying to teach the babies at drag queen story hours at libraries across the country. This is not the first time drag has been targeted, though, and it certainly won’t be the last. But if we allow history to be our teacher, it’s my hope that such a legacy will give us all the strength we need to keep the fight alive. Now, Gideon, I’m going to let you back into the show. Thanks for demonstrating great allyship by stepping aside. Did you learn anything?

 

Gideon Resnick: What didn’t I learn, is a better question. I did learn that when corporations do post during Pride Month, you can be as annoyed with them as you want because they erase all of the political history that we have talked about and all the importance that we have talked about.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that energy is well-placed, but to be an actual good ally, I have an important call-out to make before we go. While Pride Month is coming to a close, there is still time to donate to Crooked’s Pride Fund. We’ve partnered with three incredible organizations that provide community building, gender-affirming and lifesaving resources to the Queer and transgender community to support their important work. Visit Crooked.com/pridefund to donate and learn more.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: One more thing before we go, a special shout out to my partner in crime for this episode, Raven Yamamoto, for putting together our very own drag queen happy hour. Shout out to you. We see each other. Love ya!

 

Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a we review, Shantay, you stay, and tell your friends to listen.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading, and not just the reading list for the local drag queen story hour like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.

 

Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.

 

[together] And keep saying Gay!

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You can say trans too.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yes.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You can say them all/

 

Gideon Resnick: You can say all of them, unless you’re Exxon. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.