John M. Becker

Facebook Picks a Fight With Drag Queens

Filed By John M. Becker | September 17, 2014 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Geeks, Living
Tags: alias, drag queen, Facebook, fake name, pseudonym

facebook-users-silhouette.jpgA new Facebook policy that requires users to use their real names on personal profile pages has drawn the ire of a community that the company should know better than to piss off: drag queens.

CNN reports:

Several gay and transgender entertainers reported last week that Facebook temporarily suspended their personal accounts for not providing their "real name."

San Francisco drag queen Sister Roma -- a member of activist group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence -- begrudgingly made the change on her personal profile to Michael Williams, a name she has not used publicly for 27 years. She registered her contempt for the policy on social media, leading others to come forward with similar claims...

Many people use fake names on Facebook for safety reasons, Roma said. Victims of stalking and relationship abuse have a right to participate in social media anonymously, as do members of the LGBT community who cannot safely be "out," she said. Public figures such as Roma have spent years building personas under their drag names on Facebook and continue to rely on it for socializing and networking.

"This is bigger than the trans community," Roma said. "I don't have a problem with Facebook. I have a problem with the policy. It's shortsighted, and I don't think (Facebook) realizes the far-reaching implications of this policy."

The CNN report then provides an example of said far-reaching implications:

For many, it's not enough. Blissom Booblé is a retired burlesque dancer who does advocacy work for LGBT homeless youth and HIV awareness, but her main source of income comes from being a flight attendant. Using a "pen name" on her personal profile allows her to earn a living "while also doing work that I feel is vital" but not always recognized as acceptable.

"Facebook is key to connection for just about everyone these days, and many of us are known more by our chosen names than by our legal ones. My concern is that this rule has less to do with names and more to do with whose identity is acceptable versus whose identity is not."

Facebook has agreed to a request from San Francisco Supervisor David Campos to meet with local drag queens and discuss the policy. We'll let you know how that goes as soon as we have more information.


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