Though it may not be obvious from the wigs and glitter, drag has always been a political art form. In the 1960s, drag queens and trans women rioted against abusive police officers at San Francisco’s Compton’s Cafeteria and New York’s Stonewall Inn, ushering in the modern-day gay rights movement. In the 1980s, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence used street theater to raise awareness and money for AIDS/HIV treatment while the federal government ignored the epidemic. Today, San Francisco drag performer Juanita MORE! campaigns for candidates and publishes a voting guide every election season, and Honey Mahogany is closely involved in city politics, helping San Francisco found the world’s first Transgender Cultural District.
All that is to say that it makes perfect sense for California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to partner with Drag Out the Vote to boost turnout for the Nov. 3 election. It’s a bipartisan organization that operates in all 50 states, and its drag ambassadors register people to vote and motivate the LGBTQ+ community to get politically active. (Brita Filter and Jiggly Caliente of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame are among their ranks.) Under the new partnership with the state of California, the first of its kind in the nation, drag performers will be tasked with disseminating timely and accurate election information, working polling places and acting as election observers.