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


“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.”

These strong words come from Qommittee, a newly formed group of drag performers dedicated to protecting and promoting their art. They announced their formation just before June’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month. The group’s mission is clear: to fight back against the increasing hostility faced by drag performers.

Rising Hostility and Violence

“We’ve always had to fight tooth and nail for our place in this world,” the group said in a news release. “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 from across the United States, all of whom have experienced threats, harassment, or violence either directly or indirectly because of their performances. For instance, one performer’s venue in Ohio was firebombed. Another performer was at Club Q in Colorado Springs during a tragic shooting that killed five people and helped victims that night. Another member worked at both Club Q and Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, where a gunman killed 49 people in 2016.

Providing Support and Resources

Qommittee aims to connect drag performers and communities lacking local support to essential resources, such as legal aid and therapy. They also plan to help performers and venues navigate the business side of drag. The group is already working to foster dialogue between its members and local law enforcement agencies.

“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.

Conservative Criticism and Misinformation

In recent years, conservative activists and politicians have increasingly complained about what they call the “sexualization” or “grooming” of children by drag performers. These accusations often target popular events like drag story hours, where performers read age-appropriate books to children, and drag brunches, which typically warn patrons if material is unsuitable for children.

However, there is little evidence to support the claim that drag performers harm children. In fact, just last week, a jury awarded over $1 million to an Idaho performer who successfully sued a far-right blogger for defamation. The blogger had falsely claimed that the performer exposed himself to a crowd that included children.

Despite the lack of evidence, the idea of drag as a threat has gained traction and become another form of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. Opponents have even shown up to drag events with guns. In response, at least five states have passed laws restricting drag performances in some way, although courts have temporarily blocked the enforcement of these laws in some cases.

The Economic and Cultural Importance of Drag

As Pride Month approaches, it’s essential to remember that drag is not just an art form; it’s also an industry that fosters entrepreneurship and creates jobs. Community organizer Scott Simpson, who helped connect the members of Qommittee, emphasized this point. He urged fans to get involved and support the drag community.

“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.”

Drag Performers’ Stories and Struggles

Each member of Qommittee has a personal story of struggle and resilience. The performer who had their venue firebombed in Ohio faced not only the physical destruction of their performance space but also the emotional trauma of such a violent act. Despite this, they continue to perform and advocate for the drag community.

The performer who was at Club Q in Colorado Springs during the shooting has shown incredible bravery. That night, they helped victims despite the danger and chaos. Their experience highlights the risks that drag performers face simply by doing what they love.

Another member who worked at both Club Q and Pulse Nightclub has witnessed two of the deadliest attacks on LGBTQ+ venues in recent history. Their story is a stark reminder of the violence that can erupt in spaces meant to be safe havens for the LGBTQ+ community.

Creating Safe Spaces

Qommittee’s efforts to create safe spaces and provide resources are crucial in the current climate of fear and hostility. By connecting performers with legal aid, therapy, and other support, the group aims to empower the drag community to continue their art without fear.

One of Qommittee’s goals is to establish better communication with local law enforcement. By doing so, they hope to ensure that threats and acts of violence against drag performers are taken seriously and handled appropriately.

The Role of Fans and Allies

Support from fans and allies is vital for the success of Qommittee’s mission. By attending shows, speaking out against hate, and providing financial or logistical support, fans can help protect drag performers and their art.

Scott Simpson’s call to action is a reminder that unity and solidarity are powerful tools. He encourages everyone to come together during joyful moments, such as Pride Month, to celebrate and support the drag community.

The formation of Qommittee is a significant step in the fight to protect drag performers and their art. By providing resources, fostering communication with law enforcement, and uniting the community, Qommittee aims to create a safer and more supportive environment for drag performers.

As threats and hostility continue to rise, the importance of organizations like Qommittee cannot be overstated. Their work ensures that drag, an art form that brings joy and fosters community, can continue to thrive despite the challenges it faces.

In the words of Qommittee, “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.” This powerful statement underscores the urgency of their mission and the resilience of the drag community.


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