“If you came to a Peppermint show in a gay bar, you probably were going to hear about marriage equality, registering to vote or AIDS and HIV education and prevention,” says Peppermint as she reflects on her activism, which began long before she competed on season nine of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ six years ago.
As someone who has always been outspoken about LGBTQ+ equality, Peppermint tells GAY TIMES she is “frustrated” at the wave of anti-trans and anti-drag laws being introduced across the US – the latter of which often focus on banning drag shows or preventing those under the age of 18 from seeing them.
“The drag entertainers are running a business as well and so these attack their ability to earn money and earn a living in many instances, in addition to dragging the good name of drag through the mud,” she explains. “Trying to label that as something that’s like, adult and harmful to children is also offensive to me.”
The Human Rights Campaign reported that it is actively fighting against more than 40 anti-drag bills nationwide, many of which vaguely describe drag shows as “adult cabaret performances”.
“Drag will adapt, drag has adapted,” Peppermint says. “I remember, no one was going to gay bars in 2020 when the pandemic happened and drag entertainers the next day were hopping online and creating their content for people to consume, opening up TikTok accounts en masse and, you know, some of them are also doing some OnlyFans, or whatever they got to do because drag entertainers are resilient.”
Peppermint also highlights the “egregious wave” of anti-trans bills, more than 500 of which have been introduced in 2023 alone, according to the Trans Legislation Tracker.
“While drag is a very important key tool and a tool that our queer community has always used and will never stop using to communicate and to educate and to entertain each other and ourselves and the rest of the world, healthcare for transgender people is in an extremely fragile state because, when healthcare is outlawed, then we will still do what we need to do, but do it in a much more dangerous way,” she says of the many bills targeting things such as gender-affirming care and medical needs more generally.
“But across the board, the LGBTQ+ community has always been resilient. We’ve always been faced with challenges and I personally stand at the intersection of Black and trans and queer, which means that I come from a long line of people who were either discriminated against because of their sexuality and gender throughout the decades, or people in our country who have been enslaved and blocked from voting, blocked from reading, blocked from education, from the ability to call themselves a human being.
“I’m a descendant of people who were not considered human in our country on paper, but I’m here and I’m thriving and I’m working and I’m creating art and I’m doing all of these things – and so that’s my reaction to these bills.
“My reaction is, this is nothing new. I know this game. It’s literally in my blood to fight back against this.”
Peppermint says “it is difficult” to see how clearly “things are repeating themselves” but encouraged trans+ youth to stay strong “in spite of the barriers” being put up.
“My womanhood as a trans woman is not at stake and people want to attack that,” she says. “My Blackness is not at stake, my humanness is certainly not at stake. I am exactly who I am, regardless of what they say about us.”
“There are barriers and they may be difficult, they may make something illegal that was perfectly legal last week, but it doesn’t change who you are at your core,” Peppermint adds.
Since appearing on ‘Drag Race’, Peppermint’s platform has expanded greatly and, as a drag entertainer, singer-songwriter and content creator, she is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
“I would love to go back to ‘All Stars’,” she teases.
In order to keep in touch with her fans and keep them up to date with everything she’s working on, she has been using Linktree, who she has partnered with, to keep all of the information she needs to share in one place.
“It’s just been like a piece of cake,” she says of how the platform has helped her. “I can just go to my Linktree account and, you know, change or add a link without having to necessarily take something away that I don’t want to take away.”
Its ‘Tip Jar’ feature also allows drag performers to receive tips for the work they do when fans can’t make it out to see them in person.
Peppermint says that, despite not performing in LGBTQ+ clubs and bars as much these days, her content often costs a lot of money to create – which tips help with.
You can find Peppermint’s Linktree here.