News (USA)

“Don’t mess with drag queens!”: Thousands march against anti-LGBTQ+ bills

Scene from the drag march in San Francisco
Scene from the march in San FranciscoPhoto: Screenshot

In a huge show of defiance protesting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation sweeping the country, including Tennessee’s ban on public drag performance, thousands of drag queens and their allies took to the streets this weekend in back-to-back marches through San Francisco and West Hollywood.  

“If there’s one thing that I have learned over 36 years,” out state Sen. Scott Wiener (D) shared with the crowd at San Francisco’s Drag Up! Fight Back! march on Saturday, it’s “don’t mess with drag queens!”

The crowd roared.

On Easter Sunday in West Hollywood, thousands gathered for a rally in West Hollywood Park organized by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and 40 other LGBTQ+ groups before marching down Santa Monica Boulevard.

“This truly is everything to many people — to Black trans women, to trans men, to non-binary and gender non-conforming, this is everything,” RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Kerri Colby told the crowd in West Hollywood from the rally stage.

“This is not just, this is not just a fun little moment to gather and meet with friends,” she said. “This is our life!”

She called the moment “beautiful,” “powerful,” and “the start of something revolutionary.”

Colby was joined by fellow Drag Race alum Honey Davenport for a performance after speeches by West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne (D), LA County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath (D), and LA LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner.

San Francisco’s march was organized by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the People’s March, Oasis, the SF Democratic Party, and the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, and took protesters down Market Street from City Hall to Union Square, where Katya Smirnoff-Skyy led a Drag Story Hour, and a long list of drag royalty performed, including D’Arcy Drollinger, Landa Lakes, Mudd the Two-Spirit, Florida Man, and Juanita MORE!

Sister Roma of Perpetual Indulgence told NBC News: “I am here because drag is not a crime, and trans rights are human rights.”

“The LGBTQ community will not be silenced,” she said. “We will not be erased, and we will not be criminalized.”

San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman (D) praised the organizations behind the event. “Amazing turnout today – thank you to the organizers. DRAG UP! FIGHT BACK! 🏳️‍🌈”

Wiener lamented from the rally stage in San Francisco, “In 1987, if you had said that in 2023 we would still have to be arguing about whether we have a right to exist, that they would still be calling us pedophiles and predators and groomers — if you had told me that, I would have said, ‘There’s no way that would be happening.’ But that is what’s happening. This is a huge threat to our community.”

“Let’s be clear why they’re doing this,” Wiener said, calling out far-right legislators and their enablers. “They don’t want to talk about the fact that children are getting shot and killed in classrooms in this country. They don’t want to talk about real issues.”

Wiener praised trans kids for being “so damn brave” just for being who they are.

Drag Up! Fight Back! organizer Joanie Juster told NBC: “There has been so much anti-trans, anti-drag legislation passed. It’s creating a dangerous atmosphere of hate and potential violence.” 

“If it wasn’t clear already, we hope it is now,” Drag March LA organizers said in a statement before the event. “This is a crucial moment for our community.”

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