A World of Color and Glitter

July 19, 2023

By Jon Cohen and Jaimie Krass

Sunday, July 16 was International Drag Day, a day that celebrates the playfulness and bold creativity of this performance art. For many, drag provides moments of levity and deep belonging as communities grow up around performers and venues. 

Today, however, drag is under attack, as some congresspeople spread dangerous rhetoric about drag in order to pass state laws banning it entirely. The troubling tropes these lawmakers are using are all too familiar to theJewish community: that drag is a source of coercion, corruption, and moral turpitude – a danger to young people.

We know that could not be farther from the truth. Studies, statistics, and lived experience show us that access to drag is powerfully affirming for all children, not just LGBTQ+ youth. One such affirming moment took place just a few months ago at our East Coast Shabbaton. Jaimie recalls the scene:

We’re in a transformed conference room: neon lights line the walls, a portable disco ball casts sparkles in the air, electric green tape maps out the rectangle of a stage. 

Selena Gomez’s “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” blasts from the speakers. Cane in hand, dressed head to toe in a brilliant red ensemble, Roxstar steps into the spotlight: a 20-year-old Jewish, trans, disabled artist owning their power and glowing with it.

The audience – 80 LGBTQ+ Jewish teens – erupts in cheers. 

In this space, nothing mattered beyond the euphoria these young people felt as they watched a role model and former Shabbaton participant lip sync their heart out. 

That is what drag is.That is what drag does. Drag affirms our authenticity through playful exaggeration. Drag invites everyone – young people included – to relish creative expression. Drag defies adversity and spreads joy.

Today, politicians are trying to make this art form, along with gender affirming care, bathrooms, and more, illegal and inaccessible to queer people. These legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people, specifically trans youth, are not what the majority of Americans want. 85% of Americans across all political parties support LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination, and that includes 85% of American Jews, the largest percentage of any major US religion. 

And let us be clear: these legislative attacks will not only harm LGBTQ+ people. The intentional vagueness of the drag bills may affect any person who does not present as a “traditional” man or woman

LGBTQ+ rights and fighting for equality are Jewish values. We invite you to join Keshet, if you haven’t already done so, to fight in every state for full LGBTQ+ equality. Now is the time to tell your elected leaders to pass the Equality Act! This legislation would make LGBTQ+ non-discrimination the law in all 50 states, protecting young people and drag artists like Roxstar and countless others. 

With your help, we can make the world we dream of, full of color, glitter, laughter, and love.