By Maria Esquinca
Barbie, a local drag queen, struts across the dance floor at EPIC Bar and Nightclub to the beat of a 70s song. She drops her white fur coat and reveals a gold sequined top studded with giant rhinestones, while the crowd cheers her on.
Barbie, Chandelier Kahlo, Terror Krueger and Mishka, performed at an event called “Bernin’ in Drag,” a drag show in support of presidential contender Senator Bernie Sanders, on Wednesday, Feb.24, at EPIC Bar and Nightclub. All the drag queens volunteered to participate.
“Tonight’s the night of celebrating a possibility of change for the better,” Barbie said.
The event, organized by Eric Stoltz, was also an effort to recognize the contributions that drag queens have made to the LGBTQ movement. Stoltz, opened the event by reading a quote from Sylvia Rivera, a transgender activist and drag queen, and one of the people to initiate the Stonewall Riots in New York. The Stonewall Riots are credited for beginning the LGBTQ rights movement.
“The stonewall riots were pioneered by Hispanic and black drag queens,” Stoltz said. “And having a drag queen in drag performance highlights the strength that we are as a community.”
Stoltz said Sanders is a true progressive because he fought against the Defense of Marriage Act. It was passed by congress in 1996 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Section three of DOMA barred the federal government from recognizing gay marriage and was recently struck down by the Supreme Court. Stoltz said Sanders also fought against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which was also signed into law by President Bill Clinton and prohibited gay and lesbian people from serving in the military.
Hillary Clinton changed her previous opposition to gay marriage and is currently in favor of it. Stoltz welcomed Clinton’s new, pro-LGBTQ stance, however he stressed that Sanders supported LGBTQ legislation when it was unpopular.
Terror Krueger and Barbie said they would be content if either Sanders or Clinton won the presidential election, however Chandelier Kahlo felt Clinton’s recent change in her LGBTQ stance was a move made to gain votes.
“I like to put my trust in somebody who has continuously showed their support for my community,” Kahlo said.
Present at the event were members of the National Nurses Union, which have been touring across the country in support of Sanders and made a stop in El Paso that day.
Laura Dominguez, a nurse from Brownsville Texas, and a member of the NNU, said they support Sanders because he supports universal healthcare.
Hillary Clinton has said she supports and will defend the Affordable Care Act.
“She (Clinton) has not been for universal healthcare, she is for some kind of healthcare,” Dominguez said. “She’s flip-flopped a lot. She’s never been consistent.”
A petition to pass an employment non-discrimination act, which would make it illegal to fire an employee based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the state of Texas, was passed around at the event. More than 40 people signed the petition.
“There is a bunch of people who are underrepresented and marginalized in society,” Mishka said. “ By being involved in events such as this, we would be able to not only shift the focus to us, but the community as a whole.”
The last day of early voting in Texas was Friday, Feb.26.