A London drag performer has defended her appearance at a ‘Day of Freedom’ rally in London on Sunday.
The rally was organized partly in response to Twitter banning Tommy Robinson from its platform for ‘hateful conduct’. Robinson is a former leader of the far-right group English Defence League. The group is known for its anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant stance.
Robinson was recently permanently banned from Twitter for posting a message that said: ‘Islam promotes killing people.’
That Don’t Impress Me Much
Sunday’s rally in Westminster was attended by up to 3,000 people. Speakers included Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes, YouTuber Sargon of Akkad, and former Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos.
One of the more surprising appearances at the rally was drag queen, Vanity von Glow. She performed a routine to Shania Twain’s song, That Don’t Impress Me Much, among other songs.
Twain, a Canadian, faced huge criticism in late April after saying had she been able to vote in the US elections in 2016, she would have voted for Donald Trump. The singer swiftly apologized for the remarks after facing widespread criticism.
As news of von Glow’s appearance at the rally spread, she too began to receive widespread criticism on social media.
Cabaret bar cancels booking
One of London’s most popular cabaret bars, Her Upstairs, issued a statement criticizing her appearance at the rally. It stated it would no longer book her.
‘At Her Upstairs we value everyone’s right to speak freely, but we do not endorse discrimination of any kind and or speech and values that threaten the safety and support of any and all members of our community or any community.
‘The “Day of Freedom” was deemed far right propaganda masquerading as the promotion of freedom of speech. Primary endorsers and organisers stand for fundamental values that directly contradict what we believe in, and we can not ignore this fact.
‘This is not a matter of differing opinions. Instead, many of the groups that were seen to be at the forefront of the event are built on morals and prejudices that we fundamentally disagree with. The event was covered nationally by press and so to plead ignorance of any of these factors is not plausible.
‘On Sunday, Vanity von Glow made the choice to not only attend, but to appear on stage at the “Day for Freedom”. Whilst like everyone she has the right to freedom of speech, her alignment with such an event calls into question her motives, and her ethics as part of the performers with whom we work.
‘Vanity did not perform as scheduled last night. We, like everyone else await Vanity’s statement explaining why she was there.
‘As it stands she will no longer be booked at Her Upstairs.’
Vanity von Glow defends appearance: ‘Talking is important’
Last night, von Glow took to Facebook to post a lengthy defense of her appearance.
Von Glow said she is a believer in free speech, and she decided to take part as she does not want the concept of free speech to be claimed only by those on the right of the political spectrum. She said that she is a voter of the UK’s left-wing Labour party.
‘As a conscientious community, many of you have reached out with concerns that I shared a platform with controversial figures Tommy Robinson and Milo Yiannopolous,’ she said.
‘For me the ability to disagree civilly, to “differ well” if you will, is one of the building blocks of every meaningful relationship in my life.
‘Across a wide array of the beautiful and diverse human beings I call my friends I look for ways not just to connect over shared values, but over a joint desire to understand one another better – especially when we disagree.
‘Freedom of speech is important to me because speaking our ideas out loud is kind of how we think. It’s how we separate the good notions from the bad ones.
She points out that ‘Nowadays young queer people can talk freely using the internet with kids all over the world before they even have to come out to their close friends. More talking is a good thing.
‘I also believe talking is important as it is the way we sort out our differences without resorting to physical violence.’
She goes on to say: ‘I accepted the request not because I couldn’t wait to stand in a lineup with people whose politics I supported, but because I felt I would be a hypocrite to only champion free speech when it suits my own ideological ends. For clarity, had I been invited to perform at a free speech event organised by YouTubers from the left I would have done so in the same spirit.’
Addressing her decision to sing the Shania Twain song, she suggests it was perhaps not the best choice.
‘When I introduced my second song ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ I was trying to make the point that knee-jerk reactions to the clumsy remarks of Shania Twain (whose songs I will perform at the drop of a hat) make up part of a wider culture of instant suspicion and even hatred of anyone who holds different views to us.
‘A Canadian citizen who lives in Switzerland, Twain wasn’t eligible to vote in the US election of 2016 but she was lambasted on social media last week for the suggestion that at the time, had she been able to, she may have voted for candidate Donald Trump for President.
‘In no way was my support of Shania’s right to ham-fistedly express an opinion a support of that opinion (where Hillary is concerned I’m Still With Her).
‘One of the lessons I’ve learned from this, and you’d think I’d have learned this from the woman herself who retracted her remarks a day later, is that Shania Twain may not be the best method through which to make political statements.’
Not seeking notoriety
Von Glow says she did not appear at the rally to gain notoriety or boost her own recognition factor. She says she has turned down subsequent requests for TV interviews to explain her decision to participate.
Her response has prompted hundreds of further comments. Although eliciting some messages of support, many are still unhappy that she appeared at the rally. Others have questioned why she posted no statements about her appearance before or straight after her appearance – posting instead after Her Upstairs made it clear they would no longer be booking her.
GSN has approached Vanity von Glow for further comment.