RuPaul says drag queens are “the Marines” of the queer movement (Photo: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
With the US gripped in an alarming backlash against drag performers, drag superstar RuPaul (RuPaul Andre Charles) has slammed politicians for trying to distract voters from real issues.
Last month, legislators in the states of Montana and Tennessee passed bills that will ban anyone under the age of 18 from attending drag shows. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed his state’s bill into law soon after.
On Monday, Tennessee lawmakers continued their attack on the LGBTIQ+ community by passing a second bill that now requires drag artists to obtain a permit before being allowed to perform.
Bigoted right-wing politicians have sparked public hysteria over the “dangers” of young people being exposed to drag performers and shows, which they claim are “sexually explicit” and aiming to “groom” children.
RuPaul, who is credited with bringing drag into the global mainstream with his massively successful RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, has now spoken out on the bills in a social media video.
“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, health care, keeping our children safe from harm at their own school,” said RuPaul while standing in front of the American flag.
“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.
“Drag queens are the Marines of the queer movement. Don’t get it twisted and don’t be distracted, register and vote so we can get these stunt queens out of office and put some smart people with real solutions into government,” urged RuPaul.
He also called for supporters to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Drag Defence Fund.
“The freedom to express ourselves and our gender identity in creative ways fuels artistry across our country and culture,” said the ACLU on its website, “and drag is protected by the First Amendment like any creative expression such as dance, fashion, and music.”
In addition to anti-drag bills, lawmakers in Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee and other US states, have either passed or are advancing more than 400 anti-LGBTIQ+ bills.
These include legislation to limit the rights of transgender people, to ban LGBTIQ+ representation in schools and to allow state officials to refuse services to LGBTIQ+ people on the basis of their religious beliefs.
The Human Rights Campaign said the wave of bills targeting the queer community was due to a “coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups” which make use of “vintage discriminatory tropes”.