Drag queens led an Easter march in L.A. to protest anti-drag and anti-trans laws
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
The wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation passing or being introduced in states across the country has prompted many places to protest, including a community in California. Drag March LA drew hundreds of people on Easter Sunday to walk the streets of West Hollywood, one of the state's most popular areas for LGBTQ+ people. From Los Angeles, here's Caitlin Hernandez of LAist News.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: What do we want?
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Freedom.
CAITLIN HERNANDEZ, BYLINE: The protest against the bills was full of people in drag marching alongside young and old. Many had pride flags of every color, carrying signs saying queer to stay and to protect trans kids. A record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures so far this session, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Aurora Sexton, a popular local drag queen, used to live in Tennessee. She showed up to the march with a sense of duty to be there for others.
AURORA SEXTON: When they see us, they know that they're not alone. And we're here marching for them. We're here marching for them, their rights. And we want them to know that we haven't forgotten you. And we will be with you every step of the way.
HERNANDEZ: She's keeping an eye on what's happening at her old home.
SEXTON: This is my community, and this is my family. And we - we're at a point in our history where we are again called, our generation is called, to defend our rights.
HERNANDEZ: The march took over one of West Hollywood's busiest streets, Santa Monica Boulevard. Cars honked their horns in support as the crowds shouted.
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Hey, hey, ho, ho, transphobia has got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho, transphobia has got to go. Hey, hey...
HERNANDEZ: For Giorgis Despotakis, the rise in anti-drag legislation worries them.
GIORGIS DESPOTAKIS: It may be called a drag ban but I think we're all very aware in the queer community that it's targeting everyone and especially trans people under the guise of attacking drag.
HERNANDEZ: Despotakis only recently started to dress in drag as a nonbinary person.
DESPOTAKIS: The extent of my drag as a child would be to, like, put a head scarf around my head and pretend to be a grandma. I never had the chance to experiment until I left the country, until I was able to go to places where I felt more safe.
HERNANDEZ: California and Los Angeles have largely been immune to the statewide attempts to reduce LGBTQ+ protections. For queer activist Anna Goodman, the state's strong protections were all the more reason to stand up.
ANNA GOODMAN: We're just so blessed to live in a city and a state that supports us, but there's so many other young queer people in the South, in the Midwest that don't have that support.
HERNANDEZ: West Hollywood's mayor has proclaimed April 9 Drag Day, which will be observed annually.
For LAist News, I'm Caitlin Hernandez. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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