Nearly 1,000 people have signed up to attend a mass drag protest in the UK against President Donald Trump.
The US President arrives in the UK on his first official visit on Friday 13 July. He will meet the Queen, among other dignitaries.
However, several protests will also mark his visit. One of the more colorful arrives thanks to a handful of drag queens from the northern England city of Manchester.
Local drag performer Cheddar Gorgeous is among those who feel strongly about Trump’s impending visit. She and some friends created a Facebook event inviting other drag queens and kings to participate in the wider London protests against Trump.
At the time of writing, nearly 1,000 people had marked themselves down to attend, with another 6.7k interested.
‘Standing in solidarity with other people’
Gorgeous told GSN drag demonstrators intend to join up with the wider protest expected to take place in London.
‘It’s about standing in solidarity with other people and being part of a bigger movement.’
‘It’s impossible to remove our interests from the broader issues around race and gender that Trump’s policies represent. But obviously, from the perspective of a queer person, Trump’s administration has been particularly unkind to our community.
Gorgeous highlights the attempts to reinstate a transgender ban in the US military as one example of Trump’s anti-LGBTI stance. The removal of trans protections for students and efforts to ensure gay people are not covered by specific civil rights protections are others.
‘There’s also a broad issue around visibility,’ he says. ‘There’s a wider point to be made about an attack on diversity. Diversity is becoming a scapegoat by the Trump administration and the people who support it.
‘What drag does in a very extravagant way is really show our differences, in a hope to make everyone’s lives a little bit easier. Anyone who feels different to the mainstream … anyone who feels what’s different about them is not recognised or seen.
‘In a way we’re a nice metaphor for being different and being visible. It’s about being there for other people who feel they can’t be visible and maybe engage with what’s going on with a little bit of satire.
‘I think, historically, that’s what drag has done – from the Stonewall riots to the AIDS crisis – there’s something very special in standing out and drawing attention.
‘Act Up in the 80s in New York said that Silence = Death. It’s ironic that one of Trump’s first budget cuts was the to AIDS/HIV budget. We have to stand up and we have to stay visible.’
President Trump to make first official visit to UK as President
British Prime Minister Theresa May was one of the first world leaders to fly to Washington DC to congratulate Trump on his win following his January 2017 inauguration.
She invited him to make a state visit to the UK. It was an invitation some British commentators regarded premature given Trump had just taken office. By contrast, Barack Obama made his first state visit to the UK more than two years after becoming President in 2009.
Trump was initially due to attend the February 2018 launch of the new, multi-billion dollar US Embassy in South London.
However, a month before the opening, Trump stated via Twitter – his preferred means of communication – that he had quashed the idea. He claimed the new embassy was a waste of money and a ‘bad deal’ instigated by his predecesors.
Last week, the UK media announced that Trump was due to visit on Friday 13 July.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who has become embroiled in Twitter spats with POTUS, hinted the President is sure to face protests on his visit.
If he comes to London, President Trump will experience an open and diverse city that has always chosen unity over division and hope over fear. He will also no doubt see that Londoners hold their liberal values of freedom of speech very dear.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) April 26, 2018
‘If he comes to London, President Trump will experience an open and diverse city that has always chosen unity over division and hope over fear. He will also no doubt see that Londoners hold their liberal values of freedom of speech very dear.’
On Friday, the US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, confirmed the President will visit the country on 13 July. It will be a one-day ‘working visit’ rather than a state visit.
In reference to the President facing potential protests, Johnson told LBC Radio, ‘He’s very thick-skinned. He knows what he wants to do and he speaks in a very clear and unusual way from most politicians.’
‘He needs to know that we do not accept him’
One of those planning to attend the drag protest is trans woman Violet Blonde.
‘As drag queens and LGBTQ+ people we want to show solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the USA who are being discriminated against,’ Blonde told GSN.
‘This president is trying to erase and damage our community and our rights which we have fought so fiercely for.
‘We will not be erased. We are protesting because we need to be visible. He needs to see that we will not go away. We all need to stand together, as one.
‘As a trans woman I refuse to sit at home while my queer families lives are being threatened.
‘I learnt at the trans vigil in Manchester that last year nearly one person per day was murdered just for being trans. I can not be silent when somebody that wants to take our rights, our safety and ultimately our lives away, visits the country I feel safe in.
‘He needs to know that we do not accept him. We do not accept his policies. We do not accept his hatred.