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Native American Drag Star Lady Shug Is More Than Glamour

Lady Shug

This indigenous advocate has their sights set on more than pageants or shows.

Lady Shug, also known as Ky Victor and one of our Champions of Pride, is a 30-something nonbinary queer who uses the pronouns she, her, they, and them. A "proud three-quarters indigenous person of the Dine -- Navajo -- tribe," Victor says they were born into the Kinlichii'nii (Red House) and Bit'ahnii (Folded Arms) clans and grew up inthe four corners area of New Mexico.

Lady Shug, as a drag persona, was created in Las Vegas about a decade ago, where Victor recalls, "I was able to start her career and work amongst some of the best entertainers of the world at the Las Vegas Strip, performing nightly and rubbing elbows with your favorite celebrities."

They continue, "After being in the limelight for so many years, I had to reroute myself and come back to my home state of the Land of Enchantment. I've recently relocated to living on Dine -- Navajo -- territory and land, where I have been fighting for equal rights as an activist for LGBTQ2S [two-spirit] indigenous relatives to create equal rights in rural areas and reservations that do not protect those on indigenous lands, nor are there no laws or hate crimes laws to protect us, as well as if you're in a same-sex marriage your marriage isn't valid through the Dine -- Navajo -- tribe."

This year, Lady Shug won the pageantry title Miss Sidewinders 2019.

Victor works to make healthcare more trans-friendly, training providers in New Mexico and Arizona on the importance of using chosen names and preferred genders, for example. But they say, on the reservation it is still a struggle, "In Indian medical centers we are not a priority, as there's still a lack of no acceptance or accommodations."

Another area Lady Shug uses her voice is around suicide prevention in the LGBTQ community. That message is particularly important for queer, trans, and two-spirit Native Americans. "I hope one day the Navajo Nation government will realize that suicide is double the national rate amongst the Navajo LGBTQ2S. We need more establishments and therapy centers on our own territory to end this epidemic of death."

"My pride is about giving hope for a better future and strength to my friends who are afraid to come out or be themselves," they say. "To have family -- given and or chosen -- to love and accept you, to have equality in healthcare, education, government and general norm of society."

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