Drag queen Vanity von Glow faces anger after appearing at ‘far right propaganda’ rally
Drag artist Vanity von Glow has responded to criticism after appearing alongside far-right activists at a ‘free speech’ rally.
The London drag act, real name Thom Glow, performed at the ‘Day of Freedom’ protest on Sunday (May 6) where she was introduced by Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the leader of the English Defence League.
Many other speakers at the rally were prominent ‘heroes’ of the far-right, including InfoWars pundit Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes of the ‘Proud Boys’ movement, and Carl Benjamin – who is known on YouTube as ‘Sargon of Akkad.’
The event was also attended by members of the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, a group that has faced condemnation for holding “Islamophobic” demos in Birmingham.
Glow, a regular at LGBT venues across the country who last year featured on the main stage at Pride in London, performed a set at the ‘Day of Freedom’ that included a Shania Twain song – referencing the Canadian singer’s declaration that she would vote for Donald Trump.
The drag queen has faced criticism from the LGBT community in the wake of the performance, and several gay clubs have threatened to cut ties in protest.
London cabaret bar Her Upstairs announced that it had cancelled a performance by Glow, condemning the event she appeared at as “far right propaganda masquerading as the promotion of freedom of speech.”
The bar added: “Primary endorsers and organisers stand for fundamental values that directly contradict what we believe in, and we can not ignore this fact.
“Whilst like everyone she has the right to freedom of speech, her alignment with such an event calls into question her motives, and her ethics as part of the performers with whom we work.”
The venue added: “As it stands she will no longer be booked at Her Upstairs.”
In a lengthy public statement, Glow said: “Many of you have reached out with concerns that I shared a platform with controversial figures Tommy Robinson and Milo Yiannopolous.
“For me the ability to disagree civilly, to ‘differ well’ if you will, is one of the building blocks of every meaningful relationship in my life.
“Across a wide array of the beautiful and diverse human beings I call my friends I look for ways not just to connect over shared values, but over a joint desire to understand one another better – especially when we disagree. Freedom of speech is important to me because speaking our ideas out loud is kind of how we think. It’s how we separate the good notions from the bad ones.
“As with all great things the price is that sometimes we express useless ideas. Sometimes we offend even our own principles when trying to work out what’s right. Speaking freely is how I’m working out who I am.”
She defended the line-up by describing ‘Sargon of Akkad,’ who was recently banned from Twitter for “participating in targeted abuse,” as a “left-leaning libertarian.”
The drag performer described ‘Proud Boys’ founder Gavin McInnes as “a total gentleman backstage,” although McInnes has previously described transgender people as “gender n***ers” and “stupid lunatics,” claimed that “sexless, depressed, old, chubby dykes control the political narrative,” and insisted that closeted gay men “tend to be sociopaths.”
Glow added: “I accepted the request not because I couldn’t wait to stand in a lineup with people whose politics I supported, but because I felt I would be a hypocrite to only champion free speech when it suits my own ideological ends.
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“As a lifelong Labour voter (the cat is out the bag now…) whose closest friends back home in Scotland are almost exclusively SNP enthusiasts, I frequently stand alongside people with whom I disagree on a variety of subjects. I’ve lived through two hugely divisive referenda as an adult and the way we are becoming so polarised right now has broken my heart.”
Of the Shania Twain performance, Glow added: “In no way was my support of Shania’s right to ham-fistedly express a support of [Trump] (where Hillary is concerned I’m Still With Her).
“One of the lessons I’ve learned from this, and you’d think I’d have learned this from the woman herself who retracted her remarks a day later, is that Shania Twain may not be the best method through which to make political statements.”
The statement added: “In this line of work I spend a lot of time with younger queer people. I want for them to inherit a spirit of curiosity about one another – and to use that curiosity to become closer together. We have come so far forward in embracing diversity, but there’s still a long way to go in terms of embracing our diversity of opinion.
“A lack of understanding is what fuels all prejudice, and we’ll only understand one another better if we can talk openly about our experiences.”