As the LGBTQ+ community is under severe attack by conservatives, Republicans, and far-right extremists, a right-wing drag queen from Utah whose obsession with Donald Trump made her famous in right-wing circles has announced that she is giving it up — being called a drag queen, that is — instead referring to herself as a “costume artist.”
Lady Maga USA, the drag queen character played by a Salt Lake City-dwelling, gay, Mormon man named Ryan Woods, has walked a fine line for years since appearing in conservative circles and attending Trump rallies during the previous president’s tenure.
On the one hand, the character was thumbing its nose at liberals by insinuating that drag queens and the LGBTQ+ community were welcome among the GOP. But, on the other hand, she had to watch her back because her act had recently become toxic among her chosen group.
On Sunday, Woods announced that he no longer wanted to be called a drag queen when performing as Lady Maga. Instead, he said, he wanted to be called a “costume artist.”
On Twitter, the right-wing fixture outlined the reason for the characterization change.
“I now prefer to call myself a costume artist—not a drag queen,” he wrote. “The drag world was a way I could use my talents, but they destroyed their credibility with predatory filth.”
Republicans, including gay ones whose affiliation with the GOP is challenging to comprehend, as outlined in The Advocate’s latest cover story, have sought to cast drag queens as dangerous for children.
The GOP has pushed a false narrative that includes calling LGBTQ+ people, particularly drag queens, “groomers” for their interaction with children. Seemingly unable to view drag queens as performers who inhabit a character appropriate for the audience before them, those on the right cast them as deviant and dangerous instead.
As recently as the Conservative Political Action Conference in early March, the drag queen was embraced by die-hard Trump acolytes.
“I’m a performer. I can play any cosplay character. My artistry is about creativity & fun!” Woods, using his Lady Maga Twitter account, added.
Drag queens with whom The Advocate has spoken often point out that what they do is play a character that is appropriate for the occasion for which they are hired, much like other costumed characters, dancers, or other performers whose range exceeds one note.
“It’s like actors in different roles,” says Shi-Queeta Lee, a longtime Washington, D.C. drag queen. “It’s like seeing a Broadway show. There’s nothing wrong with that.”