Bob the Drag Queen: ‘Donald Trump almost bullied me out of my own country, but the Black Lives Matter movement is giving me hope’
Like many Black people in recent days, Bob the Drag Queen has been forced to have some uncomfortable conversations with friends who had remained silent on the Black Lives Matter uprising.
“I called a couple of them and they were like: ‘It’s not really my thing to use my platform to speak up. I’m just not really political,'” the Drag Race icon told PinkNews.
It was Thursday, May 28, a day after Tony McDade was shot dead by an as-yet-unnamed police officer, and three days after George Floyd was killed by now former police officer Derek Dauvin, who has since been charged with second degree murder.
After talking to her friends, Bob took to Twitter to declare: “‘I’m just not political’ is so over.
“That time has passed,” she wrote. “We need to hear your voices now. While you ‘find your voice’ Black people are being killed everyday. EVERYDAY. Trans people are being murdered back to back. It doesn’t have to be poetry. Just say it. BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
"I'm just not political" is so over. That time has passed. We need to hear your voices now. While you "find your voice" black people are being killed everyday. EVERYDAY. Trans people are being murdered back to back. It doesn't have to be poetry. Just sat it. BLACK LIVES MATTER.
— Black Lives Still Matter (@thatonequeen) May 28, 2020
Bob says that “especially in these times, everyone’s political”. She firmly believes that staying silent on the issue of racism is in itself a statement – one that will find itself on the wrong side of history.
“All of this directly affects each and every one of us, especially if you have Black and queer friends,” the Drag Race star explains.
“To quote Peppermint [Drag Race season 9 runner-up and a close friend], ‘There’s a difference between being non-racist and being anti-racist’.
“And for anybody who thinks all of this doesn’t matter, know that it is directly because of the demonstrations, because of our online presence, because of the pressure we’ve been putting on the government, that we have now had George Floyd’s murderers arrested.
“It gives me hope. We’re being heard, it’s happening, and it’s all of us, everybody all together making a profound impact. Because of what we’ve been doing four people have been arrested, and we’ll continue and we’ll get Breonna Taylor’s murderers as well.”
Bob the Drag Queen: ‘We need to take Trump at face value.’
As protesters continue to rise up against police brutality, the response from law enforcement and from the president has become increasingly violent.
On her podcast, Sibling Rivalry (co-hosted with Drag Race’s Monet X Change), Bob recently explained how she has begun addressing Trump by his proper title – president – to underline the gravity of his actions.
“I want us to start taking Trump at face value,” she tells PinkNews.
“I think a big mistake we were making before was thinking that he was just saying these inflammatory things.
“So at first it was just a little bit of problematic rhetoric here and there, then it was him saying ‘I could take a gun and shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and no one would care’, now it’s launching tear gas into crowds of innocent people so he can take a picture with the bible. He’s slowly breaching the surface to see what he can get away with and the answer each time seems to be, a lot.
“His administration once said it wanted to make American so difficult for people, that they’d want to deport themselves. I felt so tired and upset recently that I actually considered leaving the United States of America. It almost worked on me! I almost got bullied out of my own country!”
Having talked herself down from emigrating, Bob is now focusing her efforts on uplifting the Black community and working with allies who can help the cause.
“The most important thing right now is to uplift the voices of the people who are being affected. Uplift Black voices. Uplift queer voices. Uplift trans voices.” To white allies, she adds: “And don’t even make it about you.”
When it comes to uplifting her own voice, and her own work, Bob admits that she’s felt uncertain in recent days.
“I’ve gone through a lot of guilt regarding being an artist during this time and feeling like I can’t.
“But it’s really interesting, when you consider that the system of racism has made it where I feel guilty doing my art during this time.
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“We’ve been put in a position where we now have to fix the system ourselves, where we feel we have to make it our full time job and stop working. It affects you on a deep, deep level, about doing the most essential thing in life.
“But we still need Black art. We can’t just stop creating. Black art has genuinely gotten me through a lot of this.”
A lot of that art comes from Black trans women – Bob says she’s been listening to a lot of Shea Diamond, a New York soul singer and trans activist, in recent days.
Bob says that for her, the fight doesn’t end until women like Shea, and like her friend Peppermint, are free to exist. That this uprising is taking place during Pride Month underlines the fact that the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGBT+ rights movement are inextricably linked – until Black queers are free, none of us are free.
“When all of my Black trans friends can go outside and feel safe – and I don’t just mean those who are, quote-unquote ‘passing’, and I don’t just mean during Pride Month, I mean all year long, all night long, everywhere – only then have we achieved true Pride.”