Text by Kyle Casey Chu and Nick Large
Photos by Vince Flores
These San Francisco drag queens have had it with the surge in mass shootings. Today, the United States has the highest gun-related murder rate in the developed world, with up to 723 killed and wounded in mass shootings between 2006–2016—a 300% spike from the 236 killed and wounded between 1995–2005. These incidents have brought unspeakable tragedies to all of our communities: schools, places of worship, social gatherings, concerts, theaters, and LGBTQ nightclubs. But in times of grief and unrest, drag queens have long represented a rallying force. Two years after Pulse, these four San Francisco drag queens came together to serve us their fiercest gun control looks.
"After each mass shooting, we see the same posts urging people to #NeverForget. Studies show that while a majority of Americans support stricter gun control policies- even gun owners- those opposing gun control are more likely to make their opinions heard. To fight back against gun violence, we must come together as a unified voting bloc. Until we do, it’s only a matter of time until we walk by someone in our rainbow crosswalks who is a victim of gun violence."
"Evangelicals are more likely than any other American religious group to oppose stricter gun control, citing it as an attack on their religious freedom... But what about gun violence in their own churches? Over the past ten years, shootings in Christian churches have spiked to 147-plus incidents. These data does not even include mosques, temples or other public places of worship. If we really want to end this, we need to accurately reframe gun control as an affront to religion itself."
"After LGBTQ marriage was federalized, prominent LGBTQ marriage advocacy groups dissolved, declaring they have "achieved their top policy goals." What does it mean for us, as a community, to rally behind marriage equality, only to fold in the face of life-or-death issues like LGBTQ youth homelessness, anti-transgender violence, and gun control? We cannot turn our backs on matters impacting our most vulnerable, including gun violence, which affects us all. Before we start the wedding, we must stop the funerals."
"At chaotic times like these, perhaps we should recall the cry of the flower power movement: "We shall not wilt. Let a thousand flowers bloom!" They used flowers and benign objects to reduce confrontation into a form of street theater thereby reducing the fear, anger and threat that is inherent within protests."
Kyle Casey Chu is a San Francisco native drag queen, social worker, and digital content specialist.
Nick Large is an LGBT, API, and Japanese American activist studying LGBT movements and place-based organizing in San Francisco.
Vince Flores is a portrait, festival, and fashion photographer based in San Francisco.