Giving an opening, high-kicking performance, local drag queen Robin RoseQuartz introduced Drag Out the Vote’s civic engagement drag show Saturday night.
“The time is now,” RoseQuartz said. “I don’t care who you are. If you’re on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, you are part of my family now.”
The drag show was designed to promote voter participation in the upcoming 2020 primary election and awareness of womens and LGBTQ issues. Drag Out The Vote is a nonprofit that organizes events to encourage political participation through its drag queen performers as a part of its #DragOutTheVote2020 campaign.
Co-sponsored by civic engagement advocacy groups MOVE Texas and Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, the event at Highland Lounge featured performances from the club’s queens, who donated any tips they made to the organization.
Jackie Huba, founder and executive director of Drag Out The Vote, said the organization has gained national recognition despite its recent creation.
“I’ve never been an activist in my entire life, just voting is all I ever did,” Huba said “But after the 2016 election, I saw that 100 million people were not voting, and young people especially were not voting.”
Waving a rainbow fan on the dance floor, Gabrielle Samaripa, a health and society senior, said she attended the event to show support for the queens. Samaripa frequently performs in drag as her persona Glitoris.
“It’s really great … that gay clubs are doing stuff like this with, like, voter registration,” said Samaripa. “So many times people in marginalized communities feel like they can’t speak out or that their voice won’t really matter … Every single vote counts, every single person who comes to the polls really counts, and I want to see more queer people — more queer people of color — out here.”
Jimmy Flannigan, the first openly gay member of Austin City Council, spoke to the dozens of Austinites and students in attendance about voting. He said people’s civic duties do not stop at a ballot box.
“Your job is talking to your friends, to your neighbors, to your parents, to the grandparents, to your co-workers and ensuring that everybody goes to the polls and has their voice heard,” said Flannigan. “We have to make sure that we are peer pressuring (everybody) in this nation … it is too important not to vote.”