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Trixie Mattel: Drag Bans Are the Real Threat, Not Drag Queens

Trixie Mattel: Drag Bans Are the Real Threat, Not Drag Queens

Trixie Mattel

Drag performers aren't plotting world domination, the Drag Race All Stars winner says, but bans will hurt performers, bars, and ordinary people who don't conform to gender norms.

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars winner Trixie Mattel speaks out against drag bans in a new YouTube video.

In the video, released Monday, Mattel (out of drag, Brian Michael Firkus), gets into drag and denounces the restrictions recently adopted in Tennessee and proposed elsewhere.

“None of this should be about whether or not drag is something everyone should like,” Mattel says. “It shouldn’t be about whether or not drag is something everyone even accepts. It should be about whether or not something is really about protecting anyone. Not just children. Anyone.”

“Right now in Tennessee, I can get a gun and carry it around in public, but I can’t put on a fu---ing wig,” the queen continues. “On my second offense of doing drag in Tennessee, I could become a felon. A felon! As a white, rich drag queen, that scares me. How do you think that people of color and trans women, and trans women and people of color who do drag feel? They might not get a second chance because police do not treat those people the same.”

The Tennessee legislation, signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Lee (who has himself dressed in drag) this month, redefines “male and female impersonators” as adult cabaret performers and bans “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors.” Drag performances could not take place on public property or in venues accessible to minors. The first violation is a misdemeanor offense, the second one a felony. The bill passed in Tennessee is one of at least 35 anti-drag performance bills introduced in state legislatures this year.

There are many types of drag, Mattel points out. “To say all drag is bad for kids is to say all movies is bad for kids, all music is bad for kids,” she says. She notes that “drag queens are not plotting” against anyone, as if they’re sitting around a Risk game board and planning world domination. Mattel’s own act is for adults, she says: “You couldn’t pay me enough to go to a library and read to children.”

“People act like drag queens march into their living rooms and force children to watch lip-synching,” Mattel goes on. “That is not happening. You’ll never accidentally walk into a drag show. I go to gay bars and I never accidentally see drag shows.”

The law can potentially be enforced against anyone with nontraditional gender presentation, the queen adds. “This is real. This really will happen,” she says. It can also threaten the liquor licenses of gay bars, which may ask trans or gender-nonconforming people to leave to avoid getting the bar in trouble, she says.

Mattel closes by encouraging viewers to talk about the issue and support their local drag performers. She also mentions the “Drag Isn’t Dangerous” fundraising event, which will be livestreamed May 7 at 4 p.m. Pacific. It will feature live and recorded performances and raise money for LGBTQ+ causes and out-of-work drag queens and trans people.

Trixie Mattel Talks Drag

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