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Drag Is Not Exempt From The Isms, In Fact, It Is Entrenched in Them

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Online bullying and harassment is real. Many of the drag race queens have had to endure heinous comments and vicious attacks by folks who call themselves fans. I’ve heard several horror stories, as some queens have shared accounts of their own online experiences.

I think it was Morgan McMichaels who was told to kill herself by an angry (and irrational) fan of BenDeLaCreme in response to a disagreement the two talented queens had on drag race. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and all the other social media platforms are often unkind and disturbing spaces.

DeLa holding up her own lipstick- eliminating herself from the competition.

The further you are on the margins, the more harassment and violence you are susceptible to. I struggle to imagine the experiences of Black trans disabled poor undocumented women on any of the aforementioned platforms, let alone in their lives outside the computer screen and the latest iPhone.

Again, online harassment is real- it takes the form of disgusting words and images, erasure, racism, misogyny, misogynoir, queer and trans antagonism, ableism, and all the other isms. It is sickening (not in the drag way), and a reflection of the times we live in.

As we continue to have critical conversations, it is important that we don’t conflate online harassment with the calling out of white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy which drag race is entrenched in. I feel confident that many queens are intentionally confusing the two to evade accountability, and labeling liberation seekers as attackers.

Drag queens Milk and Trixie posing for the camera.

When a socially conscious fan says, “I think Trixie’s proximity to whiteness was a significant reason she won All Stars 3,” that’s not an act of bullying to Trixie- that is a critique of the violent system we live in.

When a fan says, “Milk’s disrespect of Kennedy Davenport and her drag felt much like anti-Blackness,” again, that’s not an attack on Milk- this is an attempt to hold Milk accountable for their actions, and hopefully spur a conversation that prepares us all to interrogate the ways in which anti-Blackness shows up in our lives.

We live in a system that privileges some folks, and deeply marginalizes others. Drag is not exempt from this system or this conversation; actually, RuPaul has placed drag smack dab in the heart of pop culture. Although we are all queer, that doesn’t mean violence doesn’t exist intracommunity- in particular to Black and brown trans and gender non-conforming folks.

Moreover, when a queen labels social critique as an attack, they themselves are committing violence. They are gaslighting the folks who have a legitimate concern with how the people on the margins of the margins are experiencing a system meant to extinguish their fire. Additionally, we throw away an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation on liberation and accountability.

Although difficult, it’s time for us to be honest. If we’re going to engage these critical conversations, let’s center truth(s). I am observing a lot of conversation on online harassment, and rightfully so. However, I’ve not heard any queen talk about how this toxic system infiltrates drag culture.

There is a reason why. Let’s talk.


Cody Charles is the author of Mudbound: Uncovering The Parts Of Ourselves We Sacrifice In Order To SurviveA Dream Undeterred: 10 Dreams I Want To Live Out In My Black Fat Queer Body In 2018Our Favorite Blackity Black Quotes In Black CinemaEngaging My Black Fat Body, Re-Imagining Black LoveYou Can’t Outdo Black PeopleBlack Joy, We Deserve ItThe Night The Moonlight Caught My Eye: Not a Review but a Testimony on the Film Moonlight5 Tips For White Folks, As They Engage Jordan Peele’s Get Out. (No Spoilers), and What Growing Up Black And Poor Taught Me About Resiliency. Join him for more conversation on Twitter (@_codykeith_) and Facebook (Follow Cody Charles). Please visit his blog, Reclaiming Anger, to learn more about him.

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R. Kelly Charged AGAIN

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Thursday prosecutors in New York charged embattled singer-songwriter R. Kelly with bribery, alleging the artist and his crew bribed a government official over 20 years ago. 

On August 30, 1994, the day before Kelly married the late Aaliyah, he bribed a public servant to doctor an ID in an effort to obtain a marriage license to the underage girl. That’s one day before the two got married. 

via GIPHY

Reminder: Kelly has always maintained he did not know Aaliyah’s true age at the time, but this new allegation could make him rethink his statement. So far, his attorneys have brushed off the charge calling it “still the same nonsense.”

The charge is being added to an ongoing racketeering case against Kelly which includes child pornography, sexual exploitation of a minor, and kidnapping indictments. 

Expect to see this all play out in federal court in 2020. Grab your popcorn.

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R. Kelly Girlfriend Denies Creating Patreon Account, Parents Respond

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In a video statement given to TMZ on Wednesday, Joycelyn Savage, 23, fiercely denied setting up a Patreon account in her name or posting a cryptic message to an Instagram account previously linked to her. 

“It has been said that I have left him and he has abused me and all kinds of nonsense. I have said before none of it is true… I also want to say please do not believe what you see and hear on social media. That is not my Instagram. Someone is impersonating me.”

Last week, Patreon, a website that helps creators earn money, shut down an account claiming to be Savage citing an inability to “verify the identity of the account holder.” Many donated to the campaign with the expectation of getting more details of the abuses alleged in the anonymous posts. According to the unauthenticated posts, R. Kelly tormented Savage with everything from physical abuse to frequent golden showers.

In response to their daughter’s scripted video, the parents spoke through their attorney. We’re saddened and disappointed to learn that Joycelyn Savage has said that she was not the person operating the Patreon account… we deeply desired to hear her story and in her own voice…”

Read the full statement below:

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A Complete Timeline of the Gabrielle Union-America’s Got Talent Saga

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In late November it was revealed that actress Gabrielle Union had been fired from her spot as a judge on the NBC show America’s Got Talent, but troubling reports of her exit have caused everyone from Janelle Monae to Howard Stern to weigh in on the controversy. Here’s a complete timeline of everything we know.

November 22, 2019 – Variety Magazine announces NBC will not renew Union’s contract

In addition to Union’s exit, it is revealed fellow judge Julianne Hough will also not be returning to the popular television show. Male judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, and Terry Crews all expected to remain on the roster.

AMERICA’S GOT TALENT — “Quarter Finals 1” Episode 1412 — Pictured: (l-r) Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

November 24, 2019 – News of ‘toxic culture’ at AGT hits the internet

Sources with direct knowledge of the culture at AGT describe the now-infamous joke that put Union at odds with show producers. During a guest appearance, comedian Jay Leno joked that a picture of Simon Cowell with his dogs reminded him of something “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.” The actress learned of the joke and explained to producers this joke would not be well-received particularly by Asian crewmembers and viewers. She reportedly urged producers and an unnamed NBC executive to scrap the offensive joke and report it to the network’s human resources department. The line was ultimately thrown out, but a formal report or complaint was never filed with HR.

SANTA MONICA, CA – JULY 11: Gabrielle Union attends Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports 2019 at Barker Hangar on July 11, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

Further reports emerged describing Union and Hough receiving “excessive notes” on their appearance, with Union in particular getting regularly coached on her hairstyles being “too black.”

November 26, 2019 – Julianne Hough and NBC deny allegations

Julianne Hough released a statement claiming she “loved working with the cast, crew, and producers and the claims are not “accurate to her experience.” She goes on to say “I am happy continuing my working relationship with NBC.”

The network echoed her statement with a vehement denial of all allegations. 

November 28, 2019 – Celebrities show support for Union

As the news of NBC’s culture made its waves, celebrities voiced their support for Union. Stars like Janelle Monae, Ellen Pompeo, and democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro, among many, voiced their opinions on the matter in favor of the ousted actress.

December 1, 2019 – Jay Leno speaks out, NBC releases new statement 

The comedian at the center of the alleged racist joke spoke of nothing but his fondness of Union. “I love Gabrielle Union, she’s a great girl. I really enjoyed working with her.” When asked whether he uttered the joke on the NBC show, he refused to answer. 

For its part, NBC released a new statement vowing commitment to “ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees.” The network also stated it is working with the actress’ representatives to hear her concerns and address them as necessary.

Credit: Courtesy of NBC

December 2, 2019 – Howard Stern gives his two cents

To add fuel to Union’s fire, Stern made very choice comments on his show seemingly backing up Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough and trashing Simon Cowell. “He sets it up so that the men stay. No matter how ugly they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are… He constantly replaces the hot chicks with hotter chicks and younger chicks.”

Phew! That was a lot to keep up with and somehow we have a feeling this drama isn’t over yet. Only time will tell how steep the fallout will be. What do you think about all this? Give us your thoughts below.

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