On a recent episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 5, drag queen Mayhem Miller discussed her experience with law enforcement and it was traumatizing, to say the least.
While getting ready for the runway, Mayhem revealed that she had been arrested for two DUIs, both while she was in drag.
She told her fellow contestants,
“I got arrested in drag both times. It was very terrifying. They made me strip down naked to nothing in front of everyone else that was being booked that night. And actually, one of the officers took a picture of me and they laughed.”
The other drag queens rallied around her with support and empathy, telling her she was brave for sharing her story.
The episode was, of course, filmed long before the current wave of protests against the police but it couldn’t be more relevant.
Mayhem’s story is a reminder of the rampant homophobia within the police and precisely why LGBTQ pride started in the first place.
While there were a few protests for LGBTQ rights prior to Stonewall, it’s certainly the most recognized and celebrated queer rights protest today. And it’s important to remember exactly what was being protested: police brutality.
At a time when homosexuality was illegal and the police were raiding gay bars for fun, the Stonewall Riots were a radical act that was lead by queer POC. As fellow Drag Race contestant Shea Couleé told ET,
“It’s important to acknowledge [that] it was black and brown trans people who were really championing for us to have the ability to march in the streets, hand in hand, celebrating our love.”
Black LGBTQ people lie at an intersection of race, sexuality, and gender that make them particularly vulnerable to abuse by law enforcement. They have faced police brutality in epic proportions for decades and in the midst of all the Black Lives Matter protests, it’s crucial we don’t leave our LGBTQ friends and family behind.
The Stonewall Inn is currently at risk of closure. To help support the historic landmark, donate here.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and The Challenge. When she’s not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her taking an absurd amount of photos of her tuxedo cat Tom.