Healthy Minds for All

One Step In Front of the Other


Though trans rights and other LGBTQ+ related legislation are hot button topics in our country, drag queens are standing together to show love wins. The truth is, resilience happens when we come together as a community and lean on each other for support. The LGBTQ+ community is a testament to this resilience. And there are no better voices in our community to raise up than drag queens, our cheerleaders who make us laugh, entertain us, and even challenge us to show up and participate. "We are here to change lives. We have a calling. We are here for a purpose. That's what it's all about," says Kennedy Davenport, a drag queen contestant on "RuPaul's Drag Race Live Untucked."

Other celebrity queens have used their platforms to send messages of love and acceptance. "In this time, it is so important to just broaden your mind. Have a little more empathy and compassion," says Latrice Royale, a "Drag Race" alum, to The Advocate. "Drag is fun, drag is love, drag is for everybody... so get into it." Alaska Thunderf**k echoes the message of representation leading to role modeling and, ultimately, resilience in an interview for The Guardian: "It's sort of a topsy-turvy world where a drag queen named Alaska is someone who's a role model for young people, but sure, why not? I'm always trying to be a better person, a better citizen, a better drag queen. I guess it's just a case of trying to do good and not do harm."

These queens, standing up and speaking out, represent a long history of drag performance and activism. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black drag performer, was one of the key players in the Stonewall Riots, an earthshaking moment in the gay rights movement. "Stonewall was a rebellion and a release of fear," writes Ed Pilkington for The Guardian. "But it was also the celebration of personhood by queer Americans standing proud and unashamed." The Stonewall Riots instigated the modern movement and was the birthplace of Pride. Today, drag queens and LGBTQ+ community members remember where we've been and how we got here. The journey is emblematic of transforming adversity into resilience – a reminder of our community coming together.

It takes immense courage to stand out and be seen in places that aren't always so welcoming. But for the stars of HBO's reality show "We're Here," it is all a part of the game. The show follows four drag queens as they journey through Small Town, USA to spread love and acceptance through the art of drag. But their attempts to unite the gay community are sometimes met with adversity and resistance. "In each town, the iconic trio inspire their 'drag daughters' to express their authentic selves in front of their families, friends and communities by performing in empowering one-night-only drag shows," writes James Kleinmann, editor for The Queer Review.

During Season Three of the docuseries, Bob the Drag Queen, one of the lead queens on the show, gets yelled at from a bystander simply for existing on the street alongside them. "It's important to showcase exactly what exactly is happening to remind the people who are in New York or LA or some of the more progressive places in our country," explains Shangela, another lead of the show, "that this kind of thing still exists, and until we are all accepted and included we can't forget about the importance of a community of support."

The queens of the show know how pushing for visibility leads to change. "It is all about exposure and the acceptance of truth," Shangela says. "I'm from Paris, Texas, and years ago, especially in a small town like that, you didn't say 'gay.' It was a bad word. You'd say he was 'like that,' or you'd whisper it, 'they're like that.' Now I'm an out, loud, and proud uncle. I have three nieces and a nephew. I've taken them to events when I'm in drag, they know drag queens, they know queer and trans people. It's not a dirty word anymore. It's not something that has to be hidden from them... now we're all out, loud and proud..."

As the queer community celebrates another Pride month, we celebrate voices within the community who speak for inclusivity and acceptance. Drag queens, in particular, are a hot topic and have the opportunity to demonstrate resilience for our community when we support them. The key is that resilience comes from within our community. This Pride season, we celebrate together.

Sponsored by McDonald's

by Roger Porter

This story is part of our special report: "McDonald's Unity in Diversity and Mentally Strong Editorial Series". Want to read more? Here's the full list.

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