Sharon Needles, the RuPaul’s Drag Race season four champ, seems to have gotten herself in hot water again for her use of the word n****r, and a recent attempt to have a dialogue in Atlanta about the incident and if her usage of the word is protected by her artistic rights ended in tears.
After explaining that detractors in her home city of Pittsburgh had turned violent towards her over her use of heavy racial imagery in her show, Sharon sat down at Jungle in Atlanta before a performance to discuss what some view as her racist leanings. The discussion did not go well.
Enakai and Maura Ciseaux, two Atlanta natives, spoke with Needles and explained that they often find the environment of gay clubs to be very racist and full of stereotyping. They pointed out that by employing racist language and imagery in her act, Needles may be perpetuating that environment.
Needles responded by saying; “As a transgressive artist, I and a lot of my idols use language and shock imagery to juxtapose certain images and words – like I put the word love next to ’that word’—to mock and shine a light on things that scared the shit out of me when I was young. Another word with a double ’g’ was thrown at me a lot. I’ve been called faggot, queer, and it scared the shit out me. I know what it’s like to be hurt by those kind of statements, and my intention is to subvert them and bring them to light.”
Enakai was not happy with Needles response however, saying; “You’re not black. It’s not your world, girl. You can subvert white gay images all you want because you were oppressed by that. No one has ever called you ’nigger.’ It’s not yours to subvert.”
Needles apologized and said the offending material had been removed from her act, but stopped short of offering a plan for her future performances. This angered the Ciseauxs, especially after Sharon told them; “I won’t be barked at for an apology and be forced to make a statement. If I decide to do so, it will be on my own terms.”
The Ciseauxs then stormed out, bringing Needles to tears, and later that night close to a dozen people protested the club for allowing Needles to go on as planned.
We have reached out for comment to find out how Sharon is feeling about all of this so stay tuned.
Activists confront Sharon Needles in Atlanta [Project Q Atlanta]