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Protesters took to West Hollywood on Easter Sunday, April 9, for Drag March LA, a large-scale demonstration opposing sweeping legislation passed in states like Tennessee that places bans on drag performances, and to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community. A large number of local LGBTQ+ organizations took part in the event, which was organized by the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
“We stand together united by our unwavering belief in the fundamental right to love and be loved, the right to be recognized and respected, the right to live our lives authentically without fear or discrimination – and do with our bodies what we wish,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner said at the pre-march rally. “Like those who came before us, we are not just fighting for ourselves. We are here to fight for the generations to come. We owe it to our youth to create a world where they can grow up knowing that they are loved, respected and valued, no matter who they are or whom they love. And we owe it to our elders – the people who fought for our hard-earned progress – to fight back against these evils when they rear their ugly heads.”
Marchers stepped off from West Hollywood Park, where Hollendoner spoke alongside other prominent leaders and activists.
“It was truly awe-inspiring to see the proud faces of my drag peers speckled throughout a vast crowd standing together in love and support,” drag artist and performer Mylique E. Fawcett said. “Our art cannot be weaponized to vilify the LGBTQIA community at large. We refuse that notion.”
“We are delighted at the turn out of the Drag March on Sunday in West Hollywood,” West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne said. “Thousands of LGBTQ+ people and allies came together in community to send a clear message that we will stand up together and fight for our right to self-expression and freedom. The city of West Hollywood is a sanctuary city for our LGBTQ+ community and will always stand up for human rights.”
Chief marketing officer of Invisible Men Shane Ivan Nash also attended, but expressed concern with the event’s purpose. Nash is a trans man, and his organization provides resources and support for his community.
“You can take a look at the Trans Visibility March that happened in the exact same park just a few months ago that had all of these trans organizations coming from across the country, and we could barely get attendance from anyone outside of that,” he said.
Nash said that only two trans organizations, the TransLatin@ Coalition and TransCanWork, were included in the event, and that as a member of the Trans Advisory Board, he was not contacted.
“They could have invited so many trans organizations and empowered them in such a way and done this beautiful thing,” he said. “In Tennessee, I can’t even go to a grocery store and buy an apple. Because if a child sees me in that space, that facility, it’s a felony – just to look at me for my existence.”
As it was, the event drew thousands of participants, proving to be one of the larger protests in West Hollywood’s long history of being an activist city.
“West Hollywood is at the forefront,” Mayor Pro Tempore John Erickson said. “It is one of the gayest, most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the entire country, having not only the Drag March go through our streets on a Sunday, but also in how standing up and fighting for our rights is a tried-and-true virtue of what makes West Hollywood, West Hollywood. We will always be home to whatever march needs to come out to support our civil rights. And we will never stop fighting for what’s right. Because we need now to understand that all of our rights are still on the chopping block. And if we do not stand up now, no one will.”
Significantly timed on Easter Sunday, several faith-based organizations also were partners in the event, including All Saints’ Los Angeles and Founders Metropolitan Community Church, whose pastor Rev. Keith Mozingo was the final speaker at the event. Mozingo had just delivered his Easter sermon as his drag alter ego Penny Costal, and he came to the event decked in the same outfit.
“As a cisgender man I can go stand with my trans siblings, but I am not trans, I don’t know exactly what that feels like,” Monzingo said. “I can go stand with my gender fluid and non-binary siblings, but I’m not that, so I don’t know exactly how they feel. But what I can do and what we can all do is dress up in drag as drag queens, drag kings or drag beings as a moment of support – to say that we’re going to continue to stand not just with drag siblings and not just the idea of drag – but to say we’re going to stand with our trans and non-binary friends, as well as those who do drag.” crowd standing together in love and support,” drag artist and performer Mylique E. Fawcett said. “Our art cannot be weaponized to vilify the LGBTQIA community at large. We refuse that notion.”
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