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Speakers at Drag March for Change say community, allies need to step up for Black, Black-trans lives

Protesters marched north on Halsted Street from Belmont Avenue to Grace Street, where a dozen speakers addressed the persistence of racism and transphobia in the city.

Chicago drag performer The Vixen, who competed on season 10 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” marches Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Belmont Avenue on the North Side.
Chicago drag performer The Vixen, who competed on season 10 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” marches Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Belmont Avenue on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Led by some of Chicago’s most famous drag queens, thousands protested Sunday afternoon for Black lives and Black transgender lives at the second annual Drag March for Change on the North Side.

Protesters marched north on Halsted Street from Belmont Avenue to Grace Street, where a dozen speakers addressed the persistence of racism and transphobia in the city.

Following last year’s global Black Lives Matter movement and racial reckoning in Chicago, the speakers said more needed to be done, including by the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.

“Here we are a year later because you haven’t done enough,” Jae Rice, director of communications for Brave Space Alliance, the South Side’s first Black- and trans-led LGBTQ+ Center, said in comments directed at non-Black members of the crowd.

“With last year being the deadliest year for trans folks on record, and then for this year to be on track to be the deadliest year for trans folks on record, some of you were lying last year when we were out here marching,” he added. “S- - - has not changed.”

Speakers called out specific neighborhood bars, restaurants and businesses they said could do more to promote inclusivity and diversity at their establishments, specifically in the area formerly known as Boystown, which was recently renamed “Northalsted” to be more inclusive to all members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“We all need to be taking time to make more space for everyone, especially for more Black people, especially for more Black trans people,” said drag performer Lucy Stoole, a member of the Chicago Black Drag Council, which organized the march.

Denali Foxx, a drag performer who recently competed on season 13 of the popular drag competition show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” said club owners need to “book more diversity” and “pay performers a fair wage.”

Denali added: “We have an opportunity to truly recreate and celebrate the best drag scene in the world and with accountability, education and behavioral change within our community, I know that we can do that.”

(From left) Chicago drag performers Lucy Stoole, Miss Toto and The Vixen, who competed on season 10 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” march Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Belmont Avenue on the North Side.
(From left) Chicago drag performers Lucy Stoole, Miss Toto and The Vixen, who competed on season 10 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” march Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Belmont Avenue on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Thousands protest and march Sunday afternoon on North Halsted Street in the second annual Drag March for Change on the North Side.
Thousands protest and march Sunday afternoon on North Halsted Street in the second annual Drag March for Change on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Chicago drag performer Jo MaMa, lead organizer for the Drag March for Change, speaks to the crowd Sunday on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Chicago drag performer Jo MaMa, lead organizer for the Drag March for Change, speaks to the crowd Sunday on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Chicago drag performer Jo MaMa, lead organizer for the Drag March for Change, speaks to the crowd Sunday on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Chicago drag performer Jo MaMa, lead organizer for the Drag March for Change, speaks to the crowd Sunday on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Rachel Slurrz performs Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Rachel Slurrz performs Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Abhijeet (center) marches Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Belmont Avenue on the North Side, Sunday afternoon.
Abhijeet (center) marches Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Belmont Avenue on the North Side, Sunday afternoon.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Drag performer Denali Foxx, who competed on season 13 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” speaks Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Drag performer Denali Foxx, who competed on season 13 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” speaks Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Thousands protest and march Sunday afternoon on North Halsted Street in the second annual Drag March for Change on the North Side.
Thousands protest and march Sunday afternoon on North Halsted Street in the second annual Drag March for Change on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Thousands protest and march Sunday afternoon on North Halsted Street in the second annual Drag March for Change on the North Side.
Thousands protest and march Sunday afternoon on North Halsted Street in the second annual Drag March for Change on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Chicago drag performer Aunty Chan speaks Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Chicago drag performer Aunty Chan speaks Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Chicago drag performer The Vixen, who competed on season 10 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” speaks Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Chicago drag performer The Vixen, who competed on season 10 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” speaks Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
O’laysia performs Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
O’laysia performs Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Adam Rocker, 35, of Lincoln Park, listens as speakers discuss racism and transphobia Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Adam Rocker, 35, of Lincoln Park, listens as speakers discuss racism and transphobia Sunday afternoon in the second annual Drag March for Change on North Halsted Street near Grace Street on the North Side.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times