Jonathan Van Ness gives rousing speech on anti-LGBTQ+ bills: ‘Do not let anyone silence you’

Jonathan Van Ness at the Texas Capitol rally.

Queer Eye star and all-round icon Jonathan Van Ness has slammed rising anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the US during a rally outside the Texas State Capitol.

As Drag Race icons unite to for an epic televised celebration of drag and pop culture favourites such as Maren Morris, Kevin Bacon and Hozier condemn anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in America, one queer icon has taken to the streets to raise their voice against the disturbing political climate.

Appearing at a rally outside the Texas State Capitol on Monday (20 March), Jonathan Van Ness gave a rousing speech to crowds who had turned out to protest the rising tide of US state legislation prohibiting drag performances and gender-affirming healthcare for trans children.

In their speech, Van Ness, who was introduced as an “HIV positive and undetectable, non-binary truth teller”, advocated for trans rights, as well as highlighting serious issues that the American government could be focusing on rather than pushing harmful legalisation targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

“At a time when we have child poverty at an all-time high, we have access to healthcare at an all-time low, people are fighting like they’ve never fought before for basic human rights. And we are out here debating trans issues that these legislatures have no idea about,” Van Ness began.

“We will have to be back on these steps, in those chambers, protesting and fighting for our rights.”

You may like to watch

The Queer Eye star, who has previously slammed the US government’s “botched” response to the rise in mpox cases, also urged the crowd to raise their voices against oppression.

“I was taught growing up that you never talk about religion or politics. As I have grown older, I have realised that that is a relic of the patriarchy to keep those in power in power, because they know that when we start to talk about what is really going on, their smoke and mirrors game is gone.

“So when you’re at the grocery store, when you’re at church, when you’re at synagogue, when you’re practising your faith, you talk about your existence. You talk about your humanity. You do not let anyone silence the things that move your life, whether that is politics, religion, your faith, your spirit.

“Because let me tell you something: these people on the right, they are not silencing their faith to legislate your lives.”

Van Ness also did a call and response with the crowd. “Trans rights!” they declared, with the crowd replying: “Human rights!”

Jonathan Van Ness at Dylan Mulvaney’s “Day 365 Live!” in March 2023 (Getty)

Joining Van Ness was Drag Race alumnus, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, who made her own speech and performed a lip sync to “I Am What I Am” from the Broadway musical La Cage aux Folles.

The rally was organised by organisations Equality Texas, the Texas Freedom Network, Transgender Education Network of Texas, Lambda Legal, HRC Houston, HRC Austin and the ACLU of Texas.

Ahead of the rally, Equality Texas wrote on Facebook:

“So far this legislative session, 139 good bills and 137 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced, demonstrating a change in tide as Texas advocates and allies not only play defence against the barrage of harmful bills, but also outpace them with a push for bills that would benefit the lives of LGBTQ+ Texans across the state.

“Thank you for standing with LGBTQ+ Texans in this fight!”

Please login or register to comment on this story.