George Santos may very well be the first U.S. congressperson to have performed in drag before taking office. But his policies, lies, and alignment with a party that has villainized drag performers and transgender people are doing more to harm the LGBTQ+ community than help it, two drag queen politicians tell Rolling Stone.
On Thursday, Santos called reports that he did drag in Brazil under the stage name Kitara Ravache “categorically false,” despite very clear similarities between himself and images of Ravache, as well as reports from other drag performers that it was, in fact, him. When Maebe A. Girl, a trans drag performer running for a House of Representatives seat in Southern California, heard the news surrounding Santos’ drag persona Ravache, she wasn’t surprised.
“A drag queen in Congress!?” Maebe asked on Twitter. The performer-politican says she’s gotten used to seeing the endless headlines with new revelations about Santos’ background. Santos has now lied about his mom’s death, where he went to college, and several of his qualifications for office.
“He has done plenty of things that disqualify him from being a representative,” Maebe says. “But being a drag queen is not one of those things. It’s the fact that he’s lying about it. It’s hypocritical, irresponsible and harmful.”
Maebe A. Girl first ran for office in 2020, challenging longtime Rep. Adam Schiff in California’s 30th congressional district. At the time, she says she struggled to be “taken seriously” because of her identity as a trans person and a drag performer. During the 2022 election, she became the first non-binary, trans person to enter a general election for a seat in Congress. She ended up losing to Schiff, but making it on the ballot was a massive win for her community, she says.
“Drag is what I do. Trans is who I am,” she says. “I’m not holding back from everyone to fit into a congressional body. I cannot wait to be representing the community that I’m a part of. It’s part of my identity.” Maebe explains that Santos, who is an out gay man, is likely embarrassed by his drag queen past as he tries to appeal to a transphobic GOP. For Maebe, embracing her gender identity is non-negotiable.
In New York City, non-binary drag performer Marti G. Cummings has long advocated for LGBTQ+ rights, and even launched a campaign for City Council two years ago. They’re clear in their perspective that Santos doing drag “isn’t the story here,” it’s the fact that he’s lying about it and aligning himself with a party that has actively demonized drag performers.
“I don’t care if George Santos does drag on Capitol Hill. Go ahead, serve a look, live your life … But it’s hypocritical for George Santos to be an out gay person, to lie about his past as a drag queen, and then to go use his platform — that he lied to get — to vilify drag artists and queer people,” says Cummings. “It just feeds into the hypocrisy of the GOP even further.”
Both Cummings have seen the direct impact of anti-LGBTQ+ hate and how Republicans weaponized the word “groomer” to promote homophobic legislation, such as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida, which Santos “unapologetically supported.”
“These talking points are dangerous and it will cost people their lives,” says Cummings, referring to attacks on LGBTQ+ spaces in Orlando and the deadly shooting in Colorado Springs. “There are direct consequences.”
“That sort of rhetoric has spread like fire and to have someone queer support that kind of legislation is disgusting,” adds Maebe, who says she’s been called a “groomer” and a “pedophile” online because of her gender identity.
Both Maebe and Cummings agree that it’s time that Santos step down from his position, and that he should be “ashamed of himself” for supporting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and not embracing his drag past.
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“[Santos’] actions don’t go without harm and it makes the LGBTQ community look bad when… we don’t even want him,” says Maebe.
“Maybe we’ll get a real drag queen in Congress someday,” adds Cummings.