Featured photo: Brenda the Drag Queen speaks out after mural at Bearded Goat is vandalized (screenshot)

On Tuesday afternoon, Brenda the Drag Queen, a local drag performer who started their career at the Bearded Goat in downtown Greensboro, posted on Facebook that a bigot had vandalized the mural painted by Jenna Rice that displays her likeness.

Her post, which got more than 600 reactions and more than 140 shares, shows Brenda’s face defaced with black horns and an upside down pentagram. The mural is painted on the side of the Bearded Goat.

In their post, the Bearded Goat shared a screenshot of messages that Brenda received from the account @caleb_mize_ who allegedly vandalized the mural. In the direct messages, the person said to Brenda, “I just covered your mural. It’s ugly. Die.”

Since they sent the messages to Brenda, it appears the person has taken down their Instagram account.

In a video message sent to Triad City Beat, Brenda expresses her sadness about the incident but also explains how allies can show up for her and other LGBTQIA2S+ people in this moment. In the past several years, Republicans have moved to criminalize aspects of the queer community including banning drag shows, eliminating rights for trans people and banning books that feature queer characters.

A few weekends ago, members of the Proud Boys showed up to a drag performance in Winston-Salem. The Pride banner that was hung outside of Winston-Salem’s city hall was also vandalized earlier this month.

The full statement from Brenda is below.

Note: The audio for the video is inconsistent and a bit hard to hear.

“What I want people to understand in the community is this is so much bigger than one narrow-minded person with a paint pen. This is representative of what is going on larger, in all the world and how slowly but surely we become so comfortable with negative language and small acts of vandalism or discrimination like the mural that when we see violence towards drag artists, and queer and trans and nonbinary people that becomes white noise, it becomes the standard the default because we’ve become so used to what we consider these smaller acts of discrimination.

And so, yes this is hurtful for me. I also want people to understand that this is not a rare occurrence. Particularly the messages, death threats, the things in the inboxes of drag entertainers. Those things happen all the time, right? So even though it’s this opportunity for me to kind of shine light on it, I want you to understand that drag entertainers of all kinds have seen this kind of hate regularly and it’s only getting worse with everything going on in our country with the anti-drag and anti-trans legislation.

“It’s also Pride month so a lot of people are asking, ‘What can I do?’ And I think we are so accustomed to thinking we just automatically as allies, ‘I think, I know what I can do, what I’ve been told what I can do.’ And awareness is important so we appreciate your bumper stickers and we appreciate your yard signs but even more, we appreciate your action. So instead of assuming what you can do as an ally, find a trans person, find a nonbinary person, find a drag entertainer, hear their story and then ask them what you can do to make them feel safer, feel more protected, feel celebrated. Ask those people how you can ally for them. Don’t just assume that you know how to ally because we need our allies more than ever.

I also want to make mention that the reason that my mural was at the Bearded Goat is because that is the place that I started drag so that’s very special to me. It’s also special because it’s very much how I see my form of drag. I like to take drag into spaces that are not considered to be gay-centric spaces and really expose people and let them enjoy and celebrate and see that I’m just a good ‘ol drag clown, but what I represent is a lot of history and inclusion and equity and that that’s really important.

So allies, straight people, cisgender people showing up during Pride month is more important than ever. Go out, find a drag show, tip an entertainer, tell them you love them. But then also for all queer, trans people and drag entertainers alike ask them what you can do to support them.

I also want to give a shoutout to the staff at the Bearded Goat. They’ve always been my biggest champions and supporters and even though people would consider them to be “a straight bar” they go out of their way to make sure everybody knows that when they walk in those doors, they’re family. I think it’s one of the most beautiful spaces in Greensboro because you’ve got people in there watching their sports, you’ve got the Bearded Mustache club meeting and you’ve got me, a seven-foot drag clown sitting there in the evenings having my nightly nightcap, which I think is just a beautiful melting pot of what we want the future of our country to be.”

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