Thousands join West Hollywood’s drag march to protest anti-LGBTQ+ bills: ‘Drag is not a crime’

A person holds up a sign reading 'Drag is not a crime' during an LGBTQ+ protest

Thousands of people descended on West Hollywood for Drag March LA to protest the wave of vile anti-LGBTQ+ legislation currently sweeping the United States. 

“If it wasn’t clear already, we hope it is now: This is a crucial moment for our community,” the organisers of Drag March LA said in a statement prior to the event. 

On Easter Sunday (9 April) the demonstration took over Santa Monica Boulevard and brought Angelenos of all ages together to rally against the more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills which have been tabled in 2023 alone. 

Much of this legislation targets trans and gender non-conforming people and puts forth bans on gender-affirming care, involvement in competitive sports and drag performances. 

Easter Sunday, a favourite holiday of conservative Christian politicians, was chosen as the date on purpose. 

Demonstrators march during the Drag March LA on Easter Sunday as they protest against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the country on (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Organised by the Los Angeles LGBT Center, alongside more than 40 other LGBTQ+ groups, faith organisations and queer activists, the march travelled along the major thoroughfare in Los Angeles County. 

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The event kicked-off at 11am in West Hollywood Park with West Hollywood mayor Sepi Shyne, Los Angeles County supervisor Lindsey Horvath and Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner taking to the stage to address the crowd and decry the bills. 

Performances from Ru Paul’s Drag Race alumni Kerri Colby and Honey Davenport then followed the speeches

Colby, who is from Dallas but has lived in the City of Angels for eight years, described the event as “so beautiful” and “so powerful”. 

“I truly believe this is the start of something revolutionary,” the performance told the cheering crowd. 

LGBTQ+ activists march during the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s “Drag March LA: The March on Santa Monica Boulevard”, in West Hollywood, California, on Easter Sunday April 9, 2023. (ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images)

“I just want to remind you all what it is that we’re fighting for, because without the ability to find myself and go through my journey and become who I was, I truly would not have made it to be here today at all,” she said, “I feel like it’s so important for me, and I hope that it’s so important for all of us here, to stand and fight and be a voice for those who don’t have a voice. 

“This truly is everything to many people – to Black trans women, to trans men, to non-binary and gender non-conforming, this is everything. 

“This is not just this is not just a fun little moment to gather and meet with friends, this is our life.” 

A one-hour long march then followed, with people donning their ‘Sunday best’ drag in a colourful display of solidarity and defiance.  

Colourful signs, including “Hate is a Drag”, “Drag is NOT a crime” and “legislate guns not makeup”, were held aloft by protestors while chants echoed through the streets. 

Aerial video footage taken during the march shows the scale of the protest, with huge swathes of people visibly marching down the heart of West Hollywood. 

In a statement prior to the march, Hollendoner said: “The Center’s Drag March is a nod to the origins of the LGBTQ+ movement, when the very first demonstrations started in opposition to moral policing and anti-crossdressing laws designed to impose a singular ideal of gender and sexuality onto citizens. 

“It is no mistake that today’s ‘Drag Bans’ are accompanied by a sweeping movement to ban access to gender-affirming care; we are fighting for our right to privacy, bodily autonomy, self-determination, and freedom of expression.”

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