Press

NGLTF Joins NYC Coalition of GLBT Organizations Condemning Racist Drag Performances of ‘Shirley Q. Liquor’

Date: 
October 28, 2002

Earlier this month the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force joined a New York coalition of organizations in condemning the racist drag performances of "Shirley Q. Liquor". Chuck Knipp is a gay white man who performs in blackface as the drag queen persona "Shirley Q. Liquor". His act caricatures an impoverished Black woman and draws from a number of stereotypes about African Americans. Shirley Q. speaks pidgin English, spends her days waiting for government checks to arrive in the mail, and has dozens of children (some named after venereal diseases), the fathers of whom are unknown to her.

In addition to Chuck Knipp's performances at entertainment venues across the U.S., the Shirley Q. Liquor personality is also aired on radio stations, and Shirley Q. merchandise is sold online. Although the Shirley Q. website is intermittently operative (when operative it can be found at http://www.shirleyqliquor.com), the merchandise remains on sale at CafeShops.com, where Shirley Q. greets visitors with the caption "Hello, baby! How you durrin? Welcome to my boutique of ignunce - please do not shoplift while you is up in here!". As part of its national response, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has contacted CafeShops.com and asked that they immediately remove all Shirley Q. Liquor products from their website.

New York

An ad-hoc coalition of New York groups came together to protest Chuck Knipp's performance at a gay bar in New York on September 13th (see their press release) and to compose an Open Letter to LGBTST Communities Help End Shirley Q. Liquor's Gay Exploitation of Racism, Sexism & Poverty for Profit. Although Knipp has previously performed across the south, his New York performance was the first in a current national tour and drew 50 demonstrators. When police arrived, they shut down the bar and threatened demonstrators with arrest. Please see the Preface to the Open Letter for rebuttal information to accusations of censorship. The New York ad-hoc coalition and supporters of the demonstration include: Audre Lorde Project, African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change, Fierce!!, New York State Black Gay Network, New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, People of Color in Crisis, and Unity Fellowship Church of Christ.

NGLTF

The New York ad-hoc coalition asked the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to help organize a national response. Stay tuned to this site for the latest news.

Boston

NGLTF staff member and Cambridge, Massachusetts resident Sue Hyde organized a community response to a SQL performance scheduled in Boston on October 18th. The club decided to cancel the performance.

Other Cities/SQL Tour Dates

November 9, 2002 in Austin, TX at the Forum
November 16, 2002 in New Orleans, LA at Good Friends Bar
December 14, 2002 in Jackson, MS at Jack and Jill's
December 21, 2002 in Mobile, AL at B-Bobs
December 26, 2002 in Ft.Lauderdale, FL at The Boardwalk
December 28, 2002 in Clearwater, FL at Proshop Bar
December 31, 2002 "Surprise Appearance"

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.