BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Wearing big hair, loads of makeup and high heels, small-town drag queen Ambrosia Starling is the new worst nightmare of suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
Moore has called out Starling twice by name in recent days while defending himself against allegations of violating judicial canons with his opposition to same-sex marriage. During a news conference and in a written statement, Moore cited the cross-dressing entertainer as a reason he’s at risk of losing his job for the second time since 2003.
That’s fine with Starling, who helped lead an anti-Moore rally on the steps of the Alabama Supreme Court building in January. Opponents that day filled out more than 40 complaints against Moore, who already was the subject of other complaints and now faces removal from office if convicted of violating judicial ethics.
“If it takes a drag queen to remind you that liberty and justice is for all, here I am,” Starling said Tuesday between sips of coffee.
Moore contends the effort to oust him is unfounded and politically motivated.
Born and raised in the southeast Alabama city of Dothan, Starling is a gay man who dresses up like a woman to perform drag shows. Most days, the 43-year-old Starling dresses like a male and goes to a regular job, referring to himself as “he.”
But the entertainer prefers the pronoun “she” when dressed as Ambrosia Starling, a stage name for drag shows. Fearful of losing his day job or endangering others in a Deep South state where many gays still fear violence or discrimination, Starling agreed to an interview on the condition that only the stage name was used.
“I have a 71-year-old mother who lives with me that I have to worry about,” Starling said. “Her well-being and safety is No. 1 for me.”
Starling wore her drag outfit to that demonstration against Moore outside the Supreme Court five months ago. In a long blue dress and light-colored coat, Starling referred to Moore as a bigot and asked crowd members to submit complaints against Moore to the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, which accused the Republican Moore of wrongdoing on Friday, resulting in his suspension.