Moments after Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that transgender men and women could no longer serve in the military, LGBTQ activists took to social media and denounced the president of the United States — and prominent Miami drag queen Elaine Lancaster.
“And this is the president Elaine Lanfraudster so vocally supports and constantly defends on Twitter. Shameful!” Wire magazine publisher Rafa Carvajal posted on Facebook, angry about Lancaster’s longtime vocal support of Trump.
Earlier this month, James Davis — Lancaster’s real-life persona — joined a CNN panel and told viewers that his decades-long career had been “blackballed” for openly supporting the nation’s 45th president.
“I come from a community that touts that we are so inclusive, we are so embracing of what’s different, all we ask for is tolerance and equality,” Davis told the Miami Herald after the CNN interview. “I make a living as a female impersonator in the state of Florida. I have hosted all the major events — White Party for 19 years. When I came out as a supporter of Trump, I was blackballed instantly. They got online campaigns. I was thrown off the [White Party] committee. I couldn’t be the emcee anymore. I got death threats. I have lawsuits pending against people. Oh, it’s horrible.”
Wednesday afternoon, though, Davis’ support for Trump didn’t include backing the president’s tweet that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S, military.”
“I really don’t know what to say,” Davis told the Herald on Wednesday. “I have to process it. I think he should expand freedoms and equality instead of restricting them. If transgender people want to serve in the military, they should be allowed to.
“I feel for people who are transgender and currently serving who may be asked to vacate their posts. But I would hope they would be given honorable discharges.”
Davis isn’t alone among queer conservatives who split with Trump on the transgender military issue. Wednesday morning, the national LGBT Log Cabin Republicans group — which in 2016 declined to endorse Trump, unlike the Miami chapter — criticized the commander-in-chief.
“The president’s statement this morning does a disservice to transgender military personnel and reintroduces the same hurtful stereotypes conjured when openly gay men and women were barred from service during the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ era,” the group said in a statement. “As an organization that led the charge against that hateful policy, Log Cabin Republicans remains equally committed to standing up for transgender military personnel who put their lives on the line to keep us free.”
Many LGBTQ activists throughout Florida raged Wednesday, some blaming Davis (a registered independent) and other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people who have supported Trump and the GOP.
“It’s very clear to anyone who God gave the brain of a billy goat to that [Trump] doesn’t give a ---- about us. But yet they, the ‘Roaches for Raid,’ will go and march and stand up for this man who won’t be bothered by them. That just irks me,” said Dale Wilson, also known as South Florida DJ/performance artist Power Infiniti.
“Elaine wants to go and cry and paint herself as a victim when the entire SAGA [Sexuality And Gender Acceptance] community is suffering, little by little, by this president and his administration. Yet we should be concerned for her,” Wilson said. “She is not the only gay person who supported Trump. But she has made such an effort to paint herself as the token idiot for the village idiot. Of course, things come back to her because she’s the loudest mouth.”
The animosity toward Davis began brewing long before Wednesday.
“The community members should have rallied around and said, ‘What can we do to calm this down?’ Instead, they stayed out of the way and allowed this to fester and boil over,” Davis said. “I don’t have anybody who’s hiring me right now.”
Elaine Lancaster is a former “Real Housewives of Miami” co-star who once presided over White Party, Miami Beach Gay Pride and countless other social events as one of South Florida’s most recognized drag performers. She has been photographed at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach and with first lady Melania Trump on the set of “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Davis, 53, says the hate is not directed at him simply because he likes the president.
“It’s not just because I support Trump, because many others do, too,” Davis continued. “It’s because they don’t like Elaine Lancaster. They’re jealous of her because of her success and perhaps she thinks a little too highly of herself.”
Even friends, like Jon Welsh, say Davis is at times a bit hard to take.
“She could do a lot more to be nicer to people, too,” said Welsh, a Care Resource employee who has worked with Davis at White Party, the organization’s HIV/AIDS fundraiser. “She’s no Princess Diana, honey.”
Still, Davis is hard-working and goodhearted, Welsh said.
“She might be a lot of things, but her work ethic — I admire that. Just suck it up. Just show up. And you’re smiling and you’re there to the very end,” Welsh said. “I don’t agree with all she says politically, but I admire her personally.”
Carvajal, though, says he’s “had enough.”
“Honestly, it’s completely disgusting. It’s been going on a long time and it’s time people put her in her place and know what she’s all about.”
On national television and online, Davis recently doubled down on his support for Trump — and his right to speak his mind. He said the controversy speaks to growing intolerance on both sides of the political spectrum.
“It took me a long time to fall in love with Miami. And I’m not going to go anywhere else. I’m not going to let a few nasty, unhappy, pathetic people who are so petty and are keyboard commandos to deter my love for a place I call home,” said Davis, who moved to Miami on July 15, 1997, the same day fashion designer Gianni Versace was slain outside his Ocean Drive mansion.
“Now, they say, ‘Oh, we can’t have Elaine, she’s too controversial. And I know that from my phone not ringing,” Davis said. “Have I been called for one thing for Swim Week? No. Art Basel? I can’t announce anything on social media that’s coming up because they’ll call and get me fired. That’s not America. The oppressed is now the oppressor.”
Carvajal said he doesn’t feel sorry for Davis, even if his livelihood is endangered.
“It is not fair to discriminate against someone. But it is fair to choose who you support or don’t support based on their views. And you cannot have it both ways,” Carvajal said. “You cannot for years claim to be an LGBTQ leader and then openly and vocally support someone who wants to take away the rights of the LGBTQ community.”
▪ What: ‘Trans Justice Rally’ presented by LGBTQ-rights group SAVE
▪ When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday
▪ Where: Torch of Friendship, 401 Biscayne Blvd., Miami