In the words of Long Beach drag queen Jewels, receiving the following message “just sucks”:
Drag queens, trans* folk, and even BDSM performers have been receiving notices of profile suspensions from the social media giant. Facebook informed performers, including Jewels, that the policy is part of the company’s effort to “keep our community safe.”
“I just created a fan page because of this crap,” Jewels said, noting she has had her personal since 2008. “Sister Roma nailed it.”
Sister Roma, a well-known drag performer and member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, took to Facebook’s alteration with an astoundingly clear stance about having to step away from the personal profile page she has had since 2008: “I detest the idea of having a fan page. I’m not fucking Britney Spears.”
This is why Sister Roma will be heading to the Facebook headquarters by way of the #MyRealNameIs protest. Set to take place tomorrow in front the social network’s Menlo Park offices, hundreds have already confirmed their attendance, including Long Beach drag queen DemenCha.
“Drag-ophobic Facebook rules—really?” DemenCha told the Post. “It’s the internet where the term ‘catfish’ was created—no one is ‘real.’”
Another drag personality, Olivia LaGarce, started a Change.org petition to protest the policy.
“Of course, drag queens aren’t the only ones affected by this—we’re just the ones with the big mouths,” Roma said of the event. “This issue affects a lot of marginalized, creative, and professional communities, including transgender people, bullied youth, activists, LGBTQ people who aren’t out everywhere, survivors of domestic violence and stalking, migrants, sex workers, artists who work under pseudonyms, and various professionals who work in sensitive professions like mental health or criminal justice… [These people] may want to interact with friends without being found by clients. Facebook claims that its ‘real name’ policy helps protect people from bullying, but this is a form of targeting our communities that can actually make us much less safe. Facebook is today’s public forum and they can’t exclude us. Who are they to say we or anyone else isn’t ‘real’?”
Even more concerning than the fact that it has taken Facebook eight years to alert the performers is the fact that being a celebrity on Facebook has its privileges: since 2012, Stefani Germanotta and Calvin Broadus (aka Lady Gaga and Snoop Dogg), as well as many other celebrities, have been permitted to use their stage names on their personal profiles through “verified accounts.” In contrast, Google gave up on the legal name battle, admitting it was wrong for requiring the use of a legal name for their Google+ social network and officially dropping the policy in July of this year.
“It’s interesting to see only drag queens and performers being asked to use their ‘real’ names,” DemenCha said. “Why not Nicki Minaj? You know her real name is Onika Tanya Maraj? Prince’s name ain’t Prince… Jay-Z, Flo-Rida, Lady Gaga and Eminem sure as hell aren’t their real names. Facebook wants us to move to fan pages so they can charge us per post. Gurl, we pay our bills one dolla at a time—if I had to choose between payin’ for a post or a new wig, wig wins.”
Some, including Roma, are accusing Facebook of targeting the LGBT community, considering Ars reached out to the social network and discovered that the policing against the drag queens came about “as the result of community reports about their names.”
“Policing the internet has gotta be hard Zuckerberg,” DemenCha said. “But the last thing I would ever police are a buncha queens.”