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Queer queens and trans women started the riot, yet the spotlight is on guys

Queer queens and trans women started the riot, yet the spotlight is on guys

Female queen Lacey Lou.

I first heard about the Stonewall riots in the early years of my drag career.

At the time, when I was in the process of finding myself and started performing in drag, it felt really important to know queer history.

I wanted to fit into my Birmingham LGBTI community. Therefore, when friends would throw around names and references, I would nod, but then I needed to know more.

It all began with googling and going on casual Wikipedia readings. Then, those quick google searches turned into watching documentaries and YouTube videos.

Women were at the forefront of the Stonewall riots

I became fascinated by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Those brave trans women continued to fight for the rights of the community when they had nothing to their name. At some points, they were even living on the streets.

They have grown to become highly respected legends of our community.

It is something I think about a lot when I voice my opinions on inequality, doing my bit to continue the fight that they and many others started. I admire them so much and we must never forget their work.

Drag artists still face discrimination

Many of the instigators of the riots were also drag artists. They were consistently treated unequally by the police during those persistent raids in the late 60s.

I read somewhere that back then it was illegal to dress as the opposite gender, which sounds incredibly unfair considering the freedom we get today as drag performers.

Even in the face of this, they continued to live how they wanted, entertain and express themselves.

This is an important message for us drag artists today as we still face hatred for this art form.

We’ve come a long way, but drag is not seen by all as a legitimate artistic expression. People seem to be focused on the gender aspect only.

We must keep on plucking away at societies constructs of gender. We must fight the way some would want us to present ourselves in order to be accepted.

Female queens are underrepresented in the scene

When I first started bartending in my scene, there were very few women working.

In terms of events and marketing, the spotlight was mostly on gay men.

There was a huge lack of representation of POC, transgender people, lesbian women, bisexual and non-binary people.

Was this in line with the spirit of those riots? How had that happened when the founders of what has become our Pride festivals were all of the above?

Remembering people like Marsha, Sylvia and Stormé DeLarverie is especially important to remind people that women have been a huge part of our formation and what we are now.

There are constant debates about the validity of female drag artists.

This misogynistic view is definitely damaging our morale in the community. It’s putting the women of the past, present, and future on the back burner. It’s not deeming our work equal to that of our peers.

I’m so happy to hear many voices of support from around the world lifting up one another in the face of this adversity.

It’s this attitude which carries on the legacy of those at Stonewall. Their message was equality for all, and we must honor that and not pull one another down within our community.

Know your queer history

The fight needs to stop being between us in the community and focus on the external, continuing to spread knowledge and love for all.

I feel very lucky to be in a city that carries on the Stonewall message of equality. I see it a lot around the UK, especially in cities and smaller communities.

Generally, it feels like we are moving forward with accepting all our letters of the vast LGBTI spectrum.

I’m surprised how many still don’t know about the riots and what that night meant back then and unconsciously shaped all of us. Advice to those new to their communities or unaware of the riots history, definitely do some research.

It’s inspirationally interesting and mind-opening to know how our communities have developed into what they are now. Know your queer history and long live the Stonewall riots founders.

See also:

Drag Race must cast trans and cis queer women to survive

Female queen calls out RuPaul’s Drag Race for not being women-inclusive

Transgender people are agents of change