It has been over a year now from when I stood up for a drag queen who worked at one bar, to attend a pageant at another bar. It was, and may still be, policy of the bar not to allow entertainers who work at other clubs to even patronize this club. I felt then and still feel now, that this policy is unfair, discriminatory and hurtful to the entire drag community and our local LGBTQ community.
Why would any club ban drag queens like myself — or anyone — from patronizing their club on our night off or to see a pageant of our fellow drag queens — simply because we work for another club?
Some in the drag community may see my defiance as simply being dramatic or trying to start something. But I was not rumoring or gossiping, I was simply standing up for what I thought was right. This drag queen was a friend, and she was not going to harm anyone by going to the pageant. Plus, I was a promoter of the system and had a free pass to bring whomever I would like to bring. It was the right thing to do — to stand up, to speak up, to have “integrity.”
A year later, despite now being banned from entering at this bar, I am proud of this decision and have no regrets. It has left me wondering, though, if other drag queens would have done the same for me — or, for that matter, others in the drag community?
Maybe that is unfair to ask. After all, some drag queens desperately want to be on stage and have paid bookings. Maybe its just in the nature of drag queens to settle for less. Or to take whatever they are given. But at what cost?
Each of us has a choice in how we want to be treated and how we treat others. If we choose not to say something when someone we care about is hurt or harmed, do we enable that behavior to continue as part of a cycle of harm toward the next person?
In social justice terms, it is called being an “upstander,” instead of being a “bystander.” Do we say something when someone makes a racist comment? Do you stop jokes that are sexist? Do we intervene when we see someone being cyber-bullied on Facebook? Do we stand up to discrimination in all its forms? Or do we just post selfies, talk about our own problems — and pretend it does not involve us?
All of this gets back to the notion of “integrity.” Why do we as a drag community allow anyone to tear us apart? Why do we not stand up or say no? This is not just about a bar or a person. It is about a culture of humanity that believes all people are worthy of human dignity. We must answer the question: “What do we stand for as individual drag queens, and what is possible when we stand together?”
This all reminds me of a story I heard when I was a kid. It was the story of the “Scorpion and the Fox.” Do you know the story?
One day the Fox was playing by the river, jumping in the grass and chasing his tail. The sun was bright, and the Fox did not have a care in the world. Then, a Scorpion with a big smile on his face walks up and says, “Howdy, Mr. Fox! How are you today?” The Fox replied pleasantly, “I am dandy Mr. Scorpion.”
The Scorpion, although nice, was a bit intimidating with prickly legs and a big stinger on his back tail. The Fox knew the Scorpion was dangerous, but it seemed friendly.
The Scorpion then kindly asked the Fox for a favor: “Will you help me, Mr. Fox, cross the river? I need your assistance because I am not able to swim.”
The Fox looked puzzled and said, “Well Scorpion, if I did that you would have to promise to not sting me or else we would both drown in the water and die.”
“Of course, I promise. I would never do that,” Scorpion replied.
The Fox agreed to help, and the Scorpion jumped on his back. The Fox stepped in the water and the Scorpion nestled behind his neck. The Fox swam quickly, paddling with his legs across the river.
As he neared the other side, the Fox felt a deep sting and burn around his neck. The Fox yelled, “Ouch, Scorpion. You stung me. Now we will drown and both of us will die. Why did you do that?”
The Scorpion looked the Fox in the eye and said, “I am a Scorpion. It’s in my nature.”
What’s the moral of this story? When I heard the story as a kid, it reminded me how difficult it can be to find trust in people. I think the story also asks us to think about how much we should all care about how others are treated.
Do we have integrity for ourselves and for others in our drag community? Should we care about our drag sisters and how they are treated? If you have read this far, I hope you will consider those questions.
The “real Tea” is about “integrity.” I personally do care for you and will stand up for any of you with a just cause.
Remember if you don’t stand for something, than you fall for everything. We should each find ways to stand up, stand together — whenever possible. : :
DRAG TIP: “If you want more money, ask…don’t get mad, don’t take it personal.”
SHOUT OUTS: Come out to Buff Faye’s Holiday Nativity Drag Brunch at Pure Pizza in Plaza Midwood on Saturday, Dec. 17. Seating is at noon and showtime at 1 p.m.
info: Buff Faye calls the Queen City her home and performs to shake her boobs (and to raise money for charities). Find her at your favorite bars and hot spots. Plus don’t forget her weekly Saturday night show with Patti O’Furniture, monthly Sunday drag brunch and regular Friday night party bus. Learn more at AllBuff.com. Follow on Twitter @BuffFaye