I’m a local drag queen, and I am writing to express anger and disappointment over last week’s cover story. I’m a little removed from the Salt Lake drag scene because I spend most of my time with the shows we do in Provo. But there’s really not that many drag performers in Utah, and we try to stand together. I know most of the queens whose show Jason CoZmo took over. They are beautiful people and don’t deserve to have you print such derogatory statements about them.
I want to make it clear, my frustration is with your publication, and not with Jason CoZmo. We local queens don’t care how he feels about us. We’re going to keep doing what we do — building community. He’s welcome to join.
Here’s my issue. You’ve presented yourself as an ally to our community. You produce a pageant which is meant to be about local drag performers. Why would you print such disrespectful statements about our local drag scene on the same day as the pageant, in the cover story for your Pride issue?
To quote, “It was all kind of a clusterfuck… I thought ‘Those are the local queens?’ So I made new local queens.”
When you put the person speaking that opinion on your cover, and say he’s “redefining local drag,” it really makes it seem like you agree with him. The message is, outside of the shows Jason produces, Utah drag is worthless.
On top of that, you presented CoZmo as a leader for the Drag community, and the gay community at large. Yet the only portion of your article that touched on CoZmo’s involvement with the community was his negative statements about us. How is that leadership? Of course it is possible that I am simply unaware of CoZmo’s efforts on behalf of the queer community, and as a result, his statements were presented out of context. I’d welcome correction on that matter.
You must have known we’d see the article, along with your implicit endorsement of CoZmo’s statements. I’m truly baffled by your insensitivity. I can only conclude that you forgot to think “how might this article come across to the community we are trying to reach,” or you just don’t care. That’s pretty poor journalism.
And if you don’t care about us, what’s the pageant about? Is it just a promotional opportunity for your paper? Are you using us?
It seems like you haven’t taken the time to get to know us. It would be a great thing to see a cover story about members of the drag community who work hard to make life better for queer folks in Utah. You won’t have to look very far. Maybe you would find that there’s a lot about Utah drag that doesn’t need to be redefined.
Drag is a marginalized community within a marginalized community. As you know in Utah, the dominant culture is pretty unforgiving when it comes to difference. The most important thing about being an ally is to listen, and I am asking you to listen. What you did last week was disrespectful. Please adjust your way of thinking so as to avoid this in the future.
I want to make one more thing clear. I do not fault any of the performers who took part in the pageant. I applaud them. Pageants are hard. They take up a lot of time and money, and even more courage. They can also be a great opportunity for performers to grow. You have entered our world by holding a pageant. Please do a better job of looking out for the people who participate.
—Taylor Adams, aka Brigitte Kiss