The policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change
When I was younger, I remember listening to my great grandmother talk about housing local Black Panther members and my great aunt giving recollections of marching alongside Dr. King. I also remember my mother’s dear friend visiting and bringing us plates when times were hard, cackling on the sitting room sofa and letting her know that he would “lay hands” on any man that attempted to lay a hand on her. What those memories have in common are the stories of activism and personal sacrifice for the civil liberties (including escaping domestic abuse) of all. Those memories also, however, do not give name to the queer activists and friends who rallied and fought, quite literally at times, for the rights of their fellow brothers and sisters.
“Tonight we stand together as one
They have tried to kill our pride
And now they have killed my family
I’ve seen a lot of things
But I’ve never seen a house fall from the sky, have you?
So we will fight for justice, we will fight for equality
And if the wizard wants to stop me
He’s gonna have to take me down”
We’re coming toward the end of Women’s History Month and I can’t think of a better time to highlight the contributions of some of our most marginalized sisters. Transwomen and drag queens have been at the forefront of civil rights and civil liberties activism for decades. Yet and still, they are never truly recognized for their heroism and are often mocked and ridiculed by folks who’ll “throw shade,” “snatch” edges, and get that hair “laid to the gods, hunty.” Basically, everybody loves queer culture but don’t nobody wanna defend, stand up for, or fight for queer folks. Oh, but to be Black and queer. Then, to be a Black queer creative…
I am a cis Bi woman and I know that the privilege I have of typing that, allowing others to read it on the interwebs and still knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I’ll have a job to go to in the morning and a bed to sleep in at night was because of the sacrifices of many. One, in particular, Marsha P. Johnson. Mother Marsha was a drag queen and a street activist. She was a queer creative who is best known for throwing them hands at the Stonewall Riots in 1969. Police raids on gay bars and their brutality against the LGBTQ community was too common in the 1960s. When things went too far and the community rose up against them, Mother Marsha and her good good girlfriend Sylvia Rivera were the first to fight. Unfortunately, drag culture is lauded for its catchy phrases, side-eye, and style but ain’t enough folks “gagging” on the realities of the fight and the struggle that drag queens and transwomen deal with every day. Being a queer creative doing the work, as I believe many drag queens to be, brings about onlookers and sightseers. Folks who look at them as novelties and not human beings. They’re often seen purely as entertainers and left out of the narrative that they’re fighting for.
“Now if you think that this witch won’t expose the fact that Five-O’s droppin’ houses on hoes…”
-Bob the Drag Queen
The work of our queer creatives has never ended. Laverne Cox is a transwoman of color who took the world by storm with her role on Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black. She’s an activist for people of color, women and transpeople alike. Her role on OITNB gives a face to transwomen and transwomen of color, showing how important representation truly is. Laverne is one of so many queer creatives and transwoman who are out here giving non-instersectional activism the business. I could go on for days, but I really need to leave you all with the inspiration for this post.
So many of us love a good banger. That one song that will get you hype, have you in formation and ready to do some knucking and bucking if you need to. Well, Todrick Hall and Bob the Drag Queen have dug down deep, deep, deep into the queer creative chambers and given us just that. If you’re asking how a song falls in line with a post about activism, just try not to complete the James Brown lyric “Say it loud, I’m…” and then answer that question. Todrick and Bob have delivered unto me my new formation song. My new anthem. My “say it loud” in the times of 45 and his shenanigans. This song is the answer I needed when a non-melanated person asked me if they could touch my hair….
You’ve got the wrong b****!
Stay strong, y’all. Rise up and let’s keep the fight intersectional.