San Diego to Host Drag March for Trans Rights
By Benny Cartwright
As states across the country propose bills that strip away the rights of transgender individuals and limit the freedom of expression for those in the drag community, a coalition of San Diego activists and drag entertainers decided to organize the San Diego March for Trans Rights, scheduled for Sunday, June 18.
The stated purpose of the march is “to show support for the trans and non-binary community who continue to be under attack across the country.”
In addition to the onslaught of legislation being proposed and passed, trans community members continue to report increased threats and harassment, which sometimes becomes fatal. The Human Rights Campaign reports that at least 11 transgender and gender non-conforming people have lost their lives in 2023 through violent means, including by guns and interpersonal violence.
Hearing about all of this and wanting to do something to stand up for the community, drag nun and longtime local activist Sister Iona Dubble-Wyde started asking around if San Diego had any plans to show its support like had been done in other cities. (Hundreds of people took to the streets of West Hollywood on Easter Sunday, April 9, to show support and solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community at Drag March LA.)
Learning there were no local plans that had come to fruition, Dubble-Wyde took it upon himself to bring the idea forward and was able to build a coalition to help him, including the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and drag entertainers Glitz Glam, Courtney Johnson, Paris Quion, Amber St. James, Tootie Nefertootie, and Chad Michaels. After gathering for a couple of meetings, the team decided that a San Diego Drag March for Trans Rights was in order, and settled on the June date.
An afternoon of activities has been organized around the event, which will kick-off at Urban MO’s Bar & Grill, 308 University Ave., at noon. In conjunction with the Drag March for Trans Rights, MO’s is also hosting a special edition of their Sunday #ChurchOfGlam event and will feature a live audience recording of the #GGTV podcast from the dance floor.
#GGTV is a local podcast, produced and hosted by Glitz Glam, that includes a regular cast panel who discuss entertainment, local events, news, politics, wellness, the latest shake ups on social media, and more. The June 18 edition of the show will include a discussion of issues related to trans rights and how community members can take action.
During the podcast and up until 3 pm, participants are welcome to gather on the MO’s dance floor space to make signs and posters to use during the march. Organizers say that they will have some supplies available but encourage participants to bring their own.
At 3 pm, the march will begin, with community members gathering outside of MO’s to walk through Hillcrest to Rich’s San Diego, 1051 University Ave. Once the group arrives at Rich’s, a rally is planned at 3:30 pm on the patio, with scheduled speakers to include San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, and community activists Courtney Johnson, Tootie Nefertootie, and Joseph Rocha.
March and rally participants under the age of 21 will be accommodated on the sidewalk outside of Rich’s patio, and organizers hope to move the stage closer to that entrance so everyone can see and hear the speakers.
Following the rally, participants will enjoy performances on Rich’s outside patio starting at 4:30 pm. Performers scheduled to appear include Chad Michaels, Glitz Glam, Paris Sukomi Max, Amber St. James, and Kickxy Vixen Styles. The rally and entertainment will be hosted by Mariam T.
All tips and donations raised at the event will benefit the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’s account with ACLU’s National Drag Defense Operation. To donate in advance, visit bit.ly/SistersDragDefense.
When approached about being a part of the organizing committee and participating in the event, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 1 winner and San Diego resident, Chad Michaels, agreed immediately.
“As a drag performer, I’m able to take off my makeup, but my transgender siblings’ very existence is at stake,” Michaels said. “This is why I am marching.”
According to Trans Legislation Tracker, in 2023 alone, 78 anti-trans bills have already passed out of the 555 proposed across the country. Of those, 71 have been signed into law, and 7 others passed but haven’t yet been vetoed or signed. This number will likely change as legislative sessions continue throughout the year — and the number did increase from 69 bills passed to 78 in the two-weeks since research first began for this story and its publication.
“This legislation seeks to block trans people from receiving basic healthcare, education, legal recognition, and the right to publicly exist,” said event organizers in a press release. “Community leaders in San Diego organized this march to speak out against this hateful legislation while making sure the trans and non-binary communities know that they are loved, seen, and valued.
Dubble-Wyde hopes to see a large showing from the local San Diego community, with folks from throughout the county coming out to support and participate in the march.
“In light of the rising criminalization of trans lives and drag across the country, our collective San Diego drag personas have decided to make our voices heard,” Dubble-Wyde said. “They are coming for us, our siblings, our families, and our existence, so we are asking all of the LGBTQIAA2P+ community and allies to stand and march with us.”
Sponsors of the event include Urban MO’s, Rich’s San Diego, @HillcrestSanDiego Instagram account, #GGTV, the Church of Glam, San Diego Pride, Impulse San Diego, the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Imperial Court de San Diego, the Sisters of St. James, Dreamgirls Revue, and AHF Hillcrest Pharmacy.
Additional parking options are currently being reviewed, but the Hillcrest Farmers Market ends at 2 pm and parking at the DMV is free, and other parking nearby should free up shortly after the market’s closing.
Participants and media are encouraged to use the hashtag #SDMarch4Trans when posting to social media about the event.
–Benny Cartwright is the community editor of San Diego County LGBTQ News. Reach him at [email protected].
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Courtney Johnson, and Amber St. James are members of the coalition that has planned this event. It also includes updates to the image galley to reflect these changes. An earlier version inadvertently left out Johnson, and St. James.