Hometown Alaska: LGBT rights and the world of drag

(Photo by O’Hara Shipe)

In 2020, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling determined that workplace discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity was illegal. A year later, the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights followed suit and even added additional protections for housing and “public accommodation.”

However, the introduction of three proposed bills — SB96, HB105, and HB27 — earlier this year is threatening to reverse much of the progress Alaska has made. Hidden within language about parental rights, SB96 and HB105 would require parents of school-age children to opt into the lectures, activities, and readings about gender identity, sexuality, and human reproduction. Additionally, students would not receive negative attendance marks for nonparticipation. HB27 addresses school-sanctioned sports and states that only those born biologically female can compete in girls’ sports.

Nationally, a record number of bills that attack LGBT rights, especially those of transgender youth, have been making their way through state legislatures nationwide. According to the ACLU, there are currently over 400 proposed bills that cover everything from limiting preferred pronouns to banning drag performances.

Drag queens have become a lightning rod for the justification of much of the proposed anti-LGBT legislation. Both locally and nationally, drag performers are working to demystify the art form and set the record straight.

HOST: O’Hara Shipe

Robin “Lamia Lexicon Monroe” O’Donoghue, Drag Performer
Zaide “Dela Rosa” Manzano, Drag Performer
Kendra Arciniega, Owner of Arciniega Street Productions
Mercedes Arciniega, Owner of Arciniega Street Productions

Ammon Swenson is Alaska Public Media’s Audio Media Content Producer. He was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. He graduated from UAA in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and integrated media. He’s previously worked for KRUA radio, the Anchorage Press, and The Northern Light.

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