‘Dragtavists’ protest the border wall in Texas — and yes, there was a musical number

A group of Texas drag queens gathered at the border wall in Brownsville, Texas over the weekend to throw a protest, benefitting LGBTQ asylum-seekers.
A group of Texas drag queens gathered at the border wall in Brownsville, Texas over the weekend to throw a protest, benefitting LGBTQ asylum-seekers. Facebook screengrab

A group of Texas drag queens gathered at a section of border wall outside Brownsville over the weekend and threw a protest.

“We’re gathered here today because we want to protest this monstrosity of a border wall,” Beatrix Lestrange, organizer of the No Border Wall Drag Show, said to the Saturday crowd, according to audio obtained by Texas Public Radio. “Right? Who’s with me?”

Drag queens from throughout the Rio Grande Valley traveled to attend the protest, which doubled as a fundraiser, NBC News reported. All funds donated to the group during Saturday’s protest performance would be passed on to LGBTQ asylum-seekers entering the U.S., Lestrange wrote on the Facebook event page.

Lestrange, a Brownsville resident, calls herself, and the people who protest with her, “dragtavists” because they use their platform as a performer to engage in social activism, NPR reported.

That’s because a dragtavist’s protest has two goals, Lestrange told the Brownsville Herald: “The main goal is to use drag, art and performance to kind of contrast the negative rhetoric, the fake crisis and all the stuff that’s being projected on the border communities, and [highlight] the injustices LGBT people face when seeking asylum.”

Each drag queen had a turn on center “stage” at Hope Park, just a few yards north of the Rio Grande River Saturday evening, TPR reported. One lip synced to Green Day’s “American Idiot,” while another performed Lady Gaga’s hit “Born This Way,” according to NPR.

The gathering just feet from an already existing border wall structure was meant to draw attention to the group’s position that there is no national emergency or immigration crisis at the southern border, and to voice opposition to the installation of any additional border wall structure in the area.

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“The vision was to perform in front of this wall and project our beauty and our glamour and our empowerment against this symbol that stands for hate, racism and xenophobia,” Lestrange said, according to NBC. “All of these things that aren’t really happening in our community.”

The drag queens raised about $650 in two hours, according to TPR.

“I identified very much with the asylum seekers because I come from family where … they don’t necessarily know what being a trans person is,” Dolores ‘Lolita’ LaVey said, according to the Herald.

A group of about 100 in Fort Worth protested Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to secure funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border on President’s Day. Protesters say the move circumvents Congress.

Matt is an award-winning real time reporter and a University of Texas at Austin graduate who’s been based at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 2011. His regional focus is Texas, and that makes sense. He’s only lived there his whole life.