What’s it like being people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and drag queens?
N: People automatically may not take what you do as serious, professional, or quality. Drag is very centered around white queens. We look at things like RuPaul’s Drag Race and see a lot of white queens that gain momentum and popularity. It’s also based on white privilege and having designers who would rather work with white queens because they don’t understand our body types, our hair textures, our melanated skin. So, makeup can be hard for a Black queen, sometimes.
What are the biggest challenges facing Durham’s LGBTQ+ community and how does your work attempt to address them?
S: One of the hardest things is just creating space, not just space for Black people, but finding space that can have us perform in it, that we can safely fit, and bring an audience into. A lot of venues that we go to, we have to pioneer them, bringing information about politics, talking about the cultural zeitgeist and what’s important to us. That’s also something a lot of drag queens don’t do. When we went into drag shows, they hadn’t really had Black queens talk about racism. A lot of people we perform for are straight, so they hadn’t had people have a lecture about HIV, raising money for trans and Black lives, or the fact that you can’t touch people just because you paid to see them perform. You have to ask for consent. No one was talking about these things in clubs or performance complexes, and then we’re taking this to apartment complexes, hotels, theaters.
Pride has recently been criticized by some in the LGBTQ+ community for becoming corporate. What are your thoughts?
S: Now y’all wanna divest from Pride, when this entire time, Pride has always been a celebration about what’s going on in the world. The problem is that gays and lesbians divested Black-Brown struggles from Pride. Pride has always been about the struggles of the LGBT community, specifically the lives that are often the ones who can’t hide: flamboyant, trans, Black, and Brown. That’s why Stonewall happened, why Pride started, why they made the flag. We started divesting actual causes from Pride, and Pride just became about a celebration—not unlike Juneteenth. It’s not just a celebration. It is a memorial of people, died, lost, and gone.
How will Durham’s accelerating gentrification affect your community?
N: We’re not scared. We welcome the change—as long as we are involved. We don’t want to just be looked at as, “That’s not the look that we’re going for, so let’s get rid of The Pinhook. Let’s get rid of these safe havens that have always been here because that’s not the aesthetic we’re going for.” If you wanna try that bullshit in Raleigh, in Charlotte, please go ahead and do that. We are trying to keep Durham different and community-based, welcome change at the same time, but keep all these spaces so we can continue the work we are doing. If we welcome too much of these huge, corporate, white-washed idealists in, then what happens to us? Are we just kind of thrown away? We don’t want to be just another basic city. We want to be a city where people can find refuge.
Naomie Dix and Stormie Daie will host a June 26 performance at Motorco to kick off their Sister Sister Tour 2021.
Comment on this story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.