Letters to the editor
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'Booger drag doesn't pay'
Hi. I recently read an article, "Drag queens seek fair pay" [August 8], written by Matthew S. Bajko. Thank you for doing such a story. I'm also so sorry that some of those you interviewed expected to be paid (LOL) and were not thankful for such press. As a drag queen in San Francisco, I find the entire movement and petition to be naive and delusional.
As a seasoned San Francisco queen, I have a completely different outlook on this issue. Also, most top-tier SF queens do not have this issue and do not support such a thing, as it's simple math. If there are only 20 people at your show, how do you expect to get paid? Where is this money coming from? Is there a money tree growing in the alley? I would love to include my personal post on the conversation considered as a letter to the editor. And my personal post garnered over 200 comments and 200 likes in less than 24 hours. The queen with the petition has literally 237 followers. So, she should definitely take notes on my advice.
This SF drag artists pay petition — if you want to get paid more, then stop taking gigs that only pay $25, and if you're only being offered $25 gigs then obviously you need to step your drag up. Booger drag doesn't pay, so stop being a booger and you'll get paid more. Also, instead of a petition, spend time building your social media up. If you're not getting the following you want, then maybe you need to rethink your brand of drag. If you're not marketable then you're not marketable. Just because you do drag doesn't mean you're a professional drag queen; there are a handful of professional drag queens in SF that are making good money. Maybe eyeball what they're doing and take notes. And yes, I said BOOGER.
[Editor's note: That's right, newspapers have an ethical responsibility not to pay for interviews, sources and/or materials, event/political tickets, etc. The Bay Area Reporter adheres to those standards.]
Upset with name in article
I would like to address a problem with a recent article written by Matthew S. Bajko about unfair pay in the SF drag world.
While I truly appreciate you guys shedding light and bringing attention to this issue I am truly bothered by Mr. Bajko's decision to include drag king Holden Wood's real name. This is upsetting because I know the Holden Wood specifically requested that their actual name be left out of the article. Not only is it disrespectful and unprofessional of Mr. Bajko to do this, but it is also negligent. Your journalist did not consider the possibility that an obsessed fan or disturbed individual could use Holden's real name for inappropriate purposes. For your journalist to not take into consideration the safety of the person they are interviewing but to also ignore their request for that personal information to be withheld is disgraceful and wrong. I truly hope you are able to resolve this issue not only for these reasons but to also show your readers that your publication has professional integrity.
[Editor's note: Prior to publication Holden Wood did not ask Mr. Bajko to withhold their non-drag name, which is publicly available on their website. If Wood had, Mr. Bajko would have discussed it with me. On August 9, we removed Wood's names and comments from the online version of the article. On August 8, we changed the headline of the online version to "drag performers" so as to be more inclusive of the petition effort, as opposed to the original headline that referenced drag queens.]
Underlying issue in 'bathroom bills'
Gwendolyn Ann Smith's "Emerging victorious" Transmissions column [August 1] about the death of North Carolina's House Bill 2 reveals the actual underlying issue in the so-called bathroom bills: access to "other facilities" that include "multiple occupancy ... showers or changing facilities." Today, four in five transgender women have not had genital surgery, some number of them by choice. Some of these individuals maintain an interest in using their original organs sexually, with women, as evidenced by the "cotton ceiling" complaint of lesbians unwilling to have sex with anybody with such a body. Single genital sex-based facilities protect the legitimate privacy rights of women and girls (cissexual and transsexual alike). They also protect them from misguided souls like Canada's Jessica Yaniv. [Yaniv is a trans woman who's the subject of several allegations of harassment.]
How, then, is it transphobic to find the North Carolina consent decree problematic? And what of the Equality Act, now stalled in the Senate? That bill would open every "shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room" to anyone on the basis of "gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender related characteristics." The state of Utah now has a law protecting transgender and nonbinary people from housing and employment discrimination while allowing the type of single facilities accommodations that transgender high school students taking legal action against their schools routinely turn down. Mistrusting individuals who turn down such accommodations and push for access to multiple occupancy facilities is prudence, not bigotry.
Transition for people assigned male at birth involves more than identifying as women: it involves identifying WITH women. It calls for acknowledging the female culture of protecting from the male gaze and potential male sexual/fetish predation, and assimilating into that culture. Nothing says one must not really be a woman like objecting to, and fighting, that culture and the genital sex-divided facilities it necessitates.