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Allyship is a word that gets tossed around a lot in 2023. It’s easy enough to call yourself an ally, but it’s another thing entirely to put your work, money, and time on the line.
That’s not the case with the April 25 Funk the Fundraiser—a play on DC9’s monthly Funk the Facts trivia night, this time with a special drag element to raise money for the Transgender Law Center and the ACLU of Tennessee. Hosted by Funk the Facts founders Hunter Horton and Gabby Migliara, with guest support from local drag queen Mari Con Carne, the event is a direct response to anti-trans attacks and legislation restricting drag that is introduced across the U.S. at both the state and federal levels.
Horton and Migliara, who identify as cisgender, straight White women, have been hosting Funk the Facts every fourth Tuesday of the month at DC9 since January 2022. This is the first time they’re adding drag into their trivia mix, but they’re no strangers to the art form. “Gabby and I have been to countless drag shows together. [We’ve] always benefited from the experience, the happiness of being in that community and … we’ve always been welcomed,” Horton says. “It feels wrong not to speak up now. I think White women tend to be the loudest people at drag brunch, so, for us, being the quietest ones now is not OK.”
Mari Con Carne, a drag queen activist, has been performing locally and across the East Coast for the past three years, fueled largely by Donald Trump’s presidential win.
“The 2016 election had a really powerful impact on me because, again, I am Brown, and I am gay. And so I told myself that I was gonna be more Brown and more queer than ever,” she says.
These days, she tends to host fundraiser performances that boost awareness of issues affecting queer and trans people, as well as Black and Brown people and abortion rights. As Horton notes, Mari does a killer headstand. And she understands one very important thing: The real root of drag bans is transphobia.
“Yes, drag is getting banned. And that is wrong. It’s an art form, it should not be happening,” Mari says from a back booth at DC9, sitting across from Horton and Migliara. “But the biggest issue is that it is a facade to the real issue of transphobia and hate [directed] toward gender nonconforming individuals because they should not be asked to change who they are.”
For Mari, not supporting the trans community during the current onslaught of attacks from lawmakers didn’t feel right. Her activism has always gone hand in hand with her work in drag, because, once the makeup is off and the false eyelashes are removed, Mari identifies as a cis gay man.
“I don’t go through the trials and tribulations of a trans or gender nonconforming individual,” she explains. “I take this off and become a cisgender male … I’m able to escape those realities that others [can’t].”
Mari was born in Mexico and raised in Georgia, and her art pays tribute to her Mexican culture. During the height of the pandemic, she performed via social media to raise money for Black Lives Matter, and last summer, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, she hosted a fundraiser to support abortion access that managed to raise $5,000.
“Yeah, abortion does not affect me,” Mari says, again noting her identify as a cis gay man. “But again, I am literally turning myself into a ‘femme presenting individual.’ How do I have the right to say that I don’t care about them? … People always want to say, ‘Well, I have a mother, I have a sister.’ And that’s great. But I am a person that has values. And my values tell me that I cannot put on a wig for $1 and then not use my voice.”
Although Horton describes Funk the Facts’ initial connection with Mari as “kismet”—the two met at a drag show in New York while both were visiting—it’s clearly the shared ideals of allyship and the importance of standing up for each other that brought them together for Funk the Fundraiser.
“We definitely benefit from so much privilege in basically every space that we enter, so we just want to do what we can where we can,” says Migliara. “We have this platform. And the small things add up.”
Like a typical Funk the Facts trivia night, where Migliara and Horton write the questions, there will be seven rounds of 10 questions. But instead of the typical musical medley that takes place during grading periods, Mari will take the stage. She will perform several numbers and will work the crowd, which will likely include games. One round might include an “Ask a Drag Queen,” segment, which Mari describes as “give me a dollar, and you can ask a drag queen anything.” She says she’s gotten questions like, “How do you put on makeup?” to “What is the state of politics in this country?”
Attendees are encouraged to bring lots of singles. DC9, a venue with longstanding ties to the local queer and trans communities, will also donate 10 percent of all sales to the two named organizations.
“D.C. is a very liberal town,” says Migliara. “We’re not exposing probably anyone to a drag show for the first time, but it just acts as a very intimate reminder of these realities in a space where maybe it’s easy to forget.”
Funk the Fundraiser’s Drag Trivia with Mari Con Carne, raising money for Transgender Law Center and the ACLU of Tennessee, starts at 7:30 p.m. on April 25 at DC9. dc9.club. Free to play, but cash is encouraged for tipping.