The 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which enshrined women’s constitutional right to vote in the United States, is on Aug. 18, 2020. So we’re asking politically engaged women in our community to share their personal voting stories with you.
Today: political activist, Drag Race alumna and co-owner of San Francisco's The Stud bar, Honey Mahogany
The roots of Honey Mahogany’s political engagement extend back beyond her own lifetime.
Mahogany’s parents fled Ethiopia in the late 1970s as political refugees, after seeing their homeland descend into chaos as the monarchy fell to a communist military regime in the wake of famine and civil war.
"They have seen what can happen to a country when there is a tremendous amount of political turmoil and when people don't have any control," Mahogany said. "And so they were very much determined to be a part of a solution."
Mahogany said her mom and dad instilled in her beliefs in voting as a basic human right — and the power of individuals to make change.
At first, her political activism found expression in modest ways. "I was doing things like registering people to vote and making calls to inform voters of what's on the ballot and advocating for different candidates that represent my values," she said.
Meanwhile, Mahogany trained as a social worker and was a rising star on the drag performance scene. In 2013, she drew national audiences as a contestant on Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Mahogany's political engagement rose to the next level when she co-founded San Francisco’s Transgender District in 2017. Helping to draft the legislation that brought the country’s first legally-recognized trans district into being, she said, made her believe even more strongly in her power to make things happen.
"I was able to be in the room and be a voice," she said.