Why Durham residents gathered to ‘drag’ the fascists
Naomi Dix is worried about the kids.
“Society has been trained to hate us the moment that we come into existence as children. How disgusting is that?” she said to a crowd of about 100 people gathered in downtown Durham to rally for LGBTQ+ rights Saturday.
The rally was billed as a “Drag the Fascists” and centered the voices of drag performers. It was part of a nationwide collection of rallies protesting Tennessee’s new law criminalizing drag performances, which NBC News reported a federal judge halted Friday mere hours before it was set to take effect.
“I’m not going to tell you not to be scared, because these are scary times,” said G-Clef, who also goes by Grace, before quickly breaking the tension. “Have you ever seen somebody try to steal a spotlight from a drag queen? This is not gonna end well for our opposition.”
G-Clef sang two songs while they held the mic, including the 1944 Woody Guthrie folk tune “All You Fascists Bound to Lose,” getting the crowd to join in on the gleeful chorus.
Dix wore a black dress and stilettos, all black, and carried a light pink bag embossed with the words “Protect Black Women.” She frequently spoke directly to the young people attending.
“Wave that flag baby! Yes! Yes! Yes!” she called toward a toddler who spent the morning walking gleefully around CCB plaza, parents by her side.
She said a young person she had invited to speak at the rally backed out in fear when her name was revealed without her consent.
“You have to be very honest about what these things are. This is white supremacy and fascism at its peak,” Dix told The News & Observer after the rally. “And so seeing the children out here participating in this event, being here proud and seeing that representation is super, super important for other youth around their ages to be able to say: ‘I belong in this space as well.’”
In the first hour of the rally, a person in rainbow clothes called through a megaphone: “Drag is under attack.”
The crowd chanted in response: “Stand up and fight back.”
“Trans youth are under attack.” “Stand up and fight back.”
“Trans family is under attack.” “Stand up and fight back.”
“Queer community is under attack.” “Stand up and fight back.”
“We are under attack.” “Stand up and fight back.”
Bubbles blown across the plaza floated quickly in the brisk wind toward the Unscripted hotel as volunteers passed out rainbow umbrellas to guard against the rain. Attendees held signs reading “Keep Hate Out of Healthcare” and “Drag Is Not a Crime.”
Pending NC legislation would affect LGBTQ+ community
Serena Sebring captured the lightness and darkness that mingled at the rally.
“When they hate, we only get gayer and gayer,” she said to laughter and cheers. “I’m just feeling especially gay. I actually love it, because I thank them for making my queerness even more potent.”
But even though they can laugh at their haters, Sebring said, they realize the power they wield can put LGBTQ+ folks in danger.
“The storm is gathering and we must also. The storm is gathering and we must not sit it out. We must not stay home. We must come out and we must show up for each other. Why? Because we walk in a beautiful legacy of resistance that tells us to do that,” she said.
Attendees also voiced concerns about two North Carolina bills pending in the legislature: House Bill 43, the so-called Parents’ Bill of Rights, and House Bill 43, which would restrict gender-affirming treatment for minors.
Even as Dix worries about young folks, she looks to them to carry this movement forward.
“They are doing the work. They are the example,” she said. “They are the leaders right now.”