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Category: QSWG

Joseph on The Black Drag Queens Who Fought Before Stonewall at Outhistory

Outhistory is featuring original research by Channing Joseph on “drag” parties hosted in Washington, D.C.

“If Swann and his companions were alive today, they might proudly declare themselves to be gay or transgender. In doing so, they would receive support and validation for their desires and identities from LGBT people and allies in every sizable American city, including the nation’s capital. They would receive support from powerful organizations and people within the legal, political, medical and religious establishments.In 19th-century society, however, the organizers of Washington’s underground drag parties were known simply as deviant men, and it is quite likely that the only support and validation that they could hope for was from one another. These men were not only among the nation’s first drag queens. They were rebels whose sacrifices, courage and determination helped lay the foundations of self-acceptance, solidarity and community that made the Stonewall riots possible more than 80 years later.”