This year, a number of states across the country introduced (and, unfortunately, passed) bills that would criminalize drag performances for children under 18.
While these bills are deeply troubling on a number of fronts, including their threat to free speech, the goal of lawmakers who introduce and enact these bills is to criminalize queer and trans folks (though, of course, they typically don’t say the quiet part out loud).
But if there’s one word that best describes the drag community, it's fierce.
The art of drag — the performance of exaggerated gender expression (like cross-dressing, dramatic makeup, or specific choreography) — has been around for centuries. The history of drag travels from ancient Egypt to Shakespearean plays, all the way to its role in the Stonewall Riot of 1969 and today’s modern iterations of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and Drag Queen Story Hour.
So, as politicians (who couldn’t apply winged eyeliner if their lives depended on it) try to outlaw something so historical and fabulous, we’re here to remind you of all the good drag brings to the world.
Whether it’s community members stepping up to protect drag performers or drag queens and kings who use their platform (heels) to make the world a better place, we’ll just be over here screaming “YAAAS” at the top of our lungs (and calling our representatives nonstop, thanks very much).
Good news about drag to celebrate —
This LGBTQ+ theatre company in Tennessee took the state to court.
Friends of George’s, an LGBTQ+ theatre company in Tennessee, hosts performances of original theatrical content (including drag shows) to raise funds for other LGBTQ+ area nonprofits.
This year, its board of directors filed a lawsuit against the state after the passage of a statewide drag ban. The resilience and community of this story are already good news.
But even better?
A Trump-appointed judge just struck down the ban, calling it “too vague” and “unconstitutional.”
“This win represents a triumph over hate,” Friends of George’s said in a statement. “Similar to the countless battles the LGBTQ+ community has faced over the last several decades, our collective success relies upon everyone speaking out and taking a stand against bigotry.”
West Texas A&M students sued their university president after he canceled a drag show on campus.
In March, West Texas A&M’s president, Walter Wendler, announced the cancellation of “A Fool’s Drag Race,” a campus drag show designed to raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention with The Trevor Project.
So, members of the LGBTQ+ student group, Spectrum WT, sued him.
“President Wendler can skip the show if he doesn’t want to see it, but he doesn’t get to decide how people express themselves,” Spectrum WT leadership wrote in a statement on Instagram.
“Drag shows are constitutionally-protected free expression, and President Wendler is a public official who must follow the law.”
Spectrum WT also created a GoFundMe fundraiser to support the show and blew past its goal of $5,000 in three days.
A squad of MMA fighters volunteered to work security detail at a local drag brunch.
In West Virginia, a squad of MMA fighters volunteered to work security detail for a local drag brunch after threats of violence forced performers to cancel the event.
Johnny Haught, the owner and head instructor at Ohio Valley MMA, led the charge to protect the performers.
“The drag show is no more offensive than a Broadway show, or a stand-up comedy show. In essence, it’s a mix of both,” Haught wrote on Facebook. “At the end of the day, it is entertainment; not part of some hidden agenda, like some would have you believe.”
Drag queen and environmentalist Pattie Gonia hosted her first drag show during Earth Week.
All in the name of protecting the planet, Pattie Gonia gathered some of her favorite drag performer friends to celebrate the beauty (and queerness) of Mother Nature.
Speaking of Pattie Gonia… we’re so glad The North Face stood by her in its annual Pride campaign!
This organization uses rainbow umbrellas to cover hateful protestors at drag events.
The Parasol Patrol is an organization that carries rainbow umbrellas to drag events to shield both children and performers from hateful protesters.
Volunteer “patrollers” take their compassion and turn it into action, providing a human shield of loving supporters when anti-LGBTQ+ protesters show up to events.
The Colorado organization has been out in full force this year, “showing we love kids, not in spite of who they are, but because of who they are.”
A Kentucky drag event raised nearly $3,000 for a gender-affirming community closet.
After receiving threats of violence, a Kentucky drag show unfortunately had to move to a digital format for their event.
This didn’t slow them down, as the community rallied and raised nearly $3,000 for a gender-affirming community closet.
“It has been very challenging but it has been very empowering as well. It just goes to show that there is always a silver lining and no matter how many lemons life throws at you, you can always make lemonade,” Lexington drag queen Corabelle Bundy Jolie told ABC 36 News.
These drag performers help people register to vote across the country.
“Drag Out The Vote first burst into the workroom in 2020, a small-town girl with a big dream: Activate as many LGBTQIA+ voters as possible,” the organization’s website reads. “Now, Drag Out The Vote is entering her ALL STARS era.”
A veteran and a drag queen teamed up to disarm a gunman during a mass shooting in Colorado Springs.
When a gunman tragically opened fire on Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, a veteran and a drag queen teamed up to disarm him.
While the shooting should have never happened, the heroic actions of veteran Richard M. Fierro and drag performer Thomas James saved lives.
Following the Club Q shooting, drag performers raised over $50,000 to reopen and restore the Colorado Springs nightclub.
Following the horrific shooting at Club Q, drag performers came together to process their grief and host a fundraiser to help the community heal.
Together they raised over $50,000.
A San Francisco drag queen demonstrates Narcan tutorials during her performances.
Kochina Rude, a drag performer in California, demonstrates Narcan tutorials during her performances to help save lives and decrease overdoses.
Cary Escovedo, who plays Kochina Rude on stage, has a day job in public health, and when he saw a friend overdose at a party, he knew he had to use Kochina’s platform to take action.
“In that moment, I realized that there is a big community of people who were not getting the information they needed,” Escovedo told CBS. “I had a captive audience literally every Saturday night.”
A club in Tennessee hosted a family-friendly drag brunch to fight gun violence in schools.
New Beginnings, an LGBTQ+ club in Johnson City, Tennessee opened up for rare, family-friendly brunch hours to host a drag brunch that raised awareness and funds to combat gun violence in schools.
A total of $3,500 was raised from the event, including a $250 donation from the reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race.
A New York animal shelter raised over $14,000 with a drag show fundraiser.
Drag show fundraisers are so in! In New York, a local animal shelter hosted a drag show fundraiser and raised over $14,000 to help find dogs their forever homes.
One performer from the event, Trisha LaMoore, has been a part of the annual fundraiser for the last four years — plus, she’s a dog lover.
“The great thing about this craft is being able to do this art form,” LaMoore told WENY News. “I can use it for good benefits and to raise money for things like puppies, cancer societies, all different kinds of things.”
This “Drag Race” alum teaches math on TikTok.
Filipino drag queen and “Drag Race” alum KYRE teaches math on TikTok to an audience of over 1.2 million. Her goal was to make math more fun and fabulous for all.
“It’s really important for me not just to have queer representation in STEM, but to have STEM representation in queerness,” KYRE told Vice. “I want to also show people that gay people are not just all comedians or actresses, we’re not just there to be the butt of the joke.”
Two drag queens traveled two hours to perform for a dying woman in hospice care.
When Penny Poutre, an Iowa woman, began receiving hospice treatment at Humboldt County Memorial Hospital, she just had one dying wish: to see a drag show.
So two queens, Tyona Diamond and Vana B, drove two hours to give Poutre the performance of a lifetime. They dazzled her with renditions of tunes by ABBA and The Chicks.
“Penny was smiling the whole time and teared up a bit,” Diamond said on the TODAY Show. “You could tell she was happy.”
Despite threats to drag performers, new Drag Queen Story Hours are popping up around the world.
In Norfolk, a rural, conservative town in Canada, supporters heavily outnumbered protesters as a local bookstore hosted its first drag storytime event, which focused on “the beautiful humanity of each of us.”
Despite some backlash, Catherine Weibe, owner of Firefly and Fox Books, knew the event was the right thing for her community.
“As a bookstore owner, I feel like a really foundational piece of my mandate is creating a space where people can hear other people’s stories,” Weibe told The Hamilton Spectator. “When you sit in a room with someone who’s different from you, you learn so much from them.”
A version of this article was originally published in The 2023 Pride Edition of the Goodnewspaper. Get your own Goodnewspaper by becoming a good news subscriber today.