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Stand for the Queens: How to Support Local Drag Artists

Editorial Opinion

While much of the nation saw a rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2023, North Dakota stood out with a staggering ten bills passed into law, the highest number of any state. This surge in legal hostility understandably impacted the LGBTQ+ community, particularly drag performers, whose very existence faced potential criminalization.

House Bill 1333, originally labeled as a “child protection” measure, proposed to ban drag shows deemed “sexually explicit.” This sweeping generalization equated all drag performances with adult entertainment, a blatant attempt to suppress a vibrant and diverse artistic expression within the queer community.

“Saying that all drag performances are adult-oriented is pretty much the same as saying that all dancers are strippers,” Marie Sayler said in the NDSU Spectrum campus newspaper. “It’s a sweeping generalization that’s about suppressing the queer community, not keeping children safe.”

Saying that all drag performances are adult-oriented is … a sweeping generalization that’s about suppressing the queer community, not keeping children safe.

Marie Sayler in the NDSU Spectrum

Fortunately, dedicated efforts by ND Democratic lawmakers and a federal judge’s intervention in a similar Tennessee law ultimately watered down the bill. However, the damage was far from contained. The mere existence of such legislation, fueled by insincere claims of protecting children, served as a chilling reminder of the prejudice deeply embedded in certain segments of society.

Fargo-Moorhead Pride, fearing for the safety of its participants among other reasons, felt compelled to shift several events to neighboring Moorhead.1 This relocation, necessitated by the threat of bigotry, stands as a stark testament to the impact of discriminatory legislation on the very communities it purportedly protects.

Ultimately, the political motivation behind this legislative wave is undeniable. By scapegoating drag performers and the LGBTQ+ community at large, certain politicians sought to garner support through fear and division. The unfortunate consequence? Emboldened bigotry, evident in the disturbing and violent online outbursts witnessed around the state.

As we move forward, it’s crucial to remember that this issue extends far beyond a single legislative agenda. It’s about fostering an environment where individuals and artists are free to express themselves authentically, without fear of prejudice or attack. It’s about celebrating diversity and promoting understanding, not stoking fear and division.

The year 2023 may have left its mark on North Dakota’s LGBTQ+ community, but it can also serve as a catalyst for positive change. Through education, advocacy, and unwavering support, we can ensure that the vibrant tapestry of diversity continues to shine brightly in the face of adversity.

What can we do?

It’s time to celebrate the dazzling art of drag and stand against hatred! Our local drag performers are facing unfair attacks for political gain, and we can show them solidarity through action. Here’s how:

  • Spread the Sparkle: Share upcoming drag shows and events on your social media. Let’s get that calendar popping with fabulousness!
  • Ditch the Shade, Shine the Light: Counter misinformation and prejudice with kindness and education. Let’s drown out negativity with respect and understanding.
  • Get Your Glam On: Attend a drag show! Witness the artistry, creativity, and pure joy of live drag firsthand. You’ll be supporting local talent and having a blast doing it.

Remember, drag is about self-expression, acceptance, and community. Let’s show our local drag artists the love and support they deserve! Together, we can make their voices heard and keep the spotlight shining brightly.

Bonus Tip: Check out local LGBTQ+ organizations and advocacy groups. They might have additional ways to get involved and make a difference!

Let’s celebrate our talented local artists, stand against hate, and keep the glitter flying! ✨

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  1. Clarified that FM Pride events were moved for several reason along with the legislation. ↩︎