(Editor’s Note: Cleveland Scene Magazine’s “Best of Cleveland” reader-submitted nominations were released this week with an all-white slate of nominees for “Best Drag Queen.” From Vince Grzegorek, Editor-in-Chief of Cleveland Scene, “It’s a reader’s survey from start to finish.”)
by Kardi Redd Diamond
My experience as a Black Drag Queen in Ohio has not been a perfect one.
I’ve been looked over, underpaid, talked down to, compared to and USED all because I’m a Black queen.
I’ve seen the “good gigs”—where all the real money is being made—handed to a white queen while the black queen has to fight tooth-and-nail just to be seen and respected.
So, when I found out about the all-white “Best Drag Queen” nominees in this year’s Best of Cleveland Awards, I wasn’t shocked at all. My reaction was “this is nothing new” or “yep, the same white queens from last year” and those were my exact thoughts.
Let me be clear: seeing that list was triggering. You would think that with all we’ve been going through this year, people would wake up. But that’s apparently just too much for privileged people in general.
That list made me feel like I wasn’t good enough to the city that I represent to the fullest everywhere I go. I work very hard: not only for myself but for my community. Cleveland gave me hope when I felt like giving up on my dream of being an entertainer and it’s a slap in the face when things like nominations for hard work are coming and the Entertainers of Color in our community don’t even count.
Now, one thing about myself is that I do not need a popularity contest to prove my talent and my worth as an entertainer or as a person. However, there’s a bigger picture I want you to see. Why are we as a community of minorities who fight to be accepted everyday OUTSIDE of our community then have to fight to be heard, respected, seen and recognized WITHIN our community? I can confidently say I speak for the BLACK LGBTQ COMMUNITY when I say that’s the question that needs to be answered.
There’s a race war going on and as an LGBTQ community, we should be better than that. Our community is birthed from not being accepted and not being good enough for heterosexual people or for our own families! All we have is each other, and we’re supposed to be setting the example for the people who can’t grow up and accept people for who they are.
I congratulate the Queens who were nominated. They’re all wonderful entertainers. But posting, “We need more POC entertainers nominated” isn’t good enough because it’s more than just being nominated or the Award itself.
This is about seeing each other as one and respecting everyone around you for who they are.
At this point, I don’t want the nomination ever because will it ever be genuine?