Drag has always been political, but a group of New York queens are hitting the virtual campaign trail for Danny O’Donnell, who’s running for public advocate in a special election February 26.
Jan Sport, Pixie Aventura, Bootsy Lefaris and reigning RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Aquaria are among the performers posting messages on social media, urging followers to educate themselves about the election and consider supporting O’Donnell, the openly gay assembly member who authored New York’s anti-bullying law in 2010 and the state’s marriage equality legislation in 2011.
“He is running on a platform of strong LGBT equality and affordable rent in New York—which I think we can all agree would be lovely,” says Aquaria in her clip. “So if you’re registered to vote make sure you vote in the special election… and make your voice heard.”
The campaign is the handiwork of Marti Gould Cummings, a New York queen who founded HK Dems, a Democratic club courting younger, more diverse voters. “Not a lot of people know about this special election,” Cummings tells NewNowNext. “I thought since drag queens have such an impact in our community, why not get the girls to record messages that can activate young voters in a fun way.”
Cummings, who calls O’Donnell a mentor, educated the queens on the role of the public advocate and about O’Donnell’s platform, which includes sustainable development, equality for all, and making sure everyone has access to their city.
Once upon a time, an endorsement from drag queens might not have been politically prudent, but O’Donnell is thrilled to get the backing of these colorful constituents. “Drag has always been a part of New York and a thriving element of our community,” he tells NNN. “And RuPaul’s Drag Race has really brought it into the mainstream.” Indeed, newly re-minted Speaker Nancy Pelosi was a judge on All Stars and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been exchanging loving words with Ru on Twitter.
Thank you for your shining example of loving ourselves in our entirety, no matter what the world thinks. You give me hope and strength every day!
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 6, 2019
The public advocate position opened up in November, after Letitia James was elected attorney general in November, the first woman and first person of color to hold the post. If O’Donnell wins, he will be the first openly LGBT person elected to citywide office in New York—“What a great way to honor the 50th anniversary of Stonewall,” he adds.
And don’t be surprised if Marti’s name winds up on the ballot in the not-too-distant future. “If you told me five years ago I’d be talking with legislators and getting out the vote, I’d think you were nuts,” he says. “But Trump and Pence, and how this administration has undermined our rights, have really gotten a lot of us active. If someone underestimates me because I’m a drag queen, they’ll find out their mistake soon enough.”
A fundraiser for O’Donnell’s campaign is being held Monday, January 21, at 7pm at Therapy in New York.