Class Of 2020: MILITIA—Drag Queen & Singer

When it came to curating this list, in the midst of a cultural upset, a global pandemic, and a civil war amongst the people—we were at a crossroads.

How do we create a Class Of guide when the world seems to be falling apart every single day, how do we honor people and their achievements when the conversation has so clearly turned.

Though in the SF Bay Area, we’ve seen a litany of small to large scale unrests awaken in the light of the brutal police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others. These protests have sprung other conversations about race, sexual identity, childcare, healthcare—the list goes on.

And much like the Bay Area does, there are few who lead the charge. Our Class Of 2020 honors and highlights examples who began to further change—whether it’s through their work, day-to-day, or digitally.

Every week (specifically Monday and Friday), we will be highlighting two of our seven Class Of 2020 and inducting them into our master guide of locals who trail blaze in the Bay Area.

If you’ve ever been to a drag show, you know how much fun it is and how the room’s electricity can just ignite your inner bliss.

Something about the music, the lights, the talent—whatever and may have you, a drag show is the platform of the voiceless. You may have heard but drag is inherently political. Whether a performer is dancing through the night or is on the mic spinning truths about the current state of our society, when it’s this demi-god like figure speaking to you—you listen. In the case of Militia Scunt, a San Francisco based performer, singer, and activist, moving from the physical stage to a digital one in the time of COVID-19 has been a best case on how to approach issues in the community with clarity.

Among the accolades of her local drag sisters, Scunt has been a figure participant in discussions of race relations in the queer arts community, equity in the nightlife scene—the list goes on and on. But to know Scunt is to know her ten fold talents, aspirations, and goals when it comes to queer nightlife and queer performance. Activism in her own right.

// Photography provided by the inductees, words by the Bob Cut Mag Editors; have a correction or question, email us here.

Q

Just so you know, you were nominated by our readers numerous times but for those who don’t know you, please let us in to all that is MILITIA?

A

Wow! That’s super sweet so I’m gonna start off with a HUGE thank you to those readers who took the time to nominate me. It’s easy sometimes to wonder if what we’re doing is for not so it’s heartwarming to feel appreciated and I really appreciate it.

Any who, Militia is me. I’m a 26 year-old Blaxican drag performer. I’ve been performing for 4 years now in San Francisco but am originally from the Far East Bay in Pittsburg. I would say I’m best known for dramatic stunts, live vocals, winning everything, and openly challenging the establishment, that is San Francisco’s nightlife scene, for the equitable treatment of the marginalized.

Q

You’re quite prolific in the drag and activism scene—how did you find yourself in both? What came first if one did come first to you?

A

I would say drag came first, in that people learned about me through drag first, but at the same time, I was raised right, so I’ve always believed in speaking up for not only myself but to stand up and say something when witnessing the mistreatment of others. In that way, I never really identified myself as an activist and was shocked when some of the things I said, about the issues of racism, colorism, equitable treatment, etc,  were considered controversial. That was when I really started noticing the problems within the San Franciscan Culture specifically in the LGBTQIA+ community.

 


Militia amongst friends in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Militia Scunt.Militia amongst friends in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Militia Scunt.

Militia amongst friends in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Militia Scunt.

 

Q

Since pandemic hit you’ve also been quite busy in the town hall space, what have been some of the panels you’ve been a part of? How have they made an impact on you and the community at large?

A

Since quarantine, I was able to help create the Bay Area Queer Nightlife Coalition and host a town hall for the public in which Afrika Amerika and I questioned representatives from select popular bars (management and owners) about their commitment, or lack thereof, to providing an anti-racist environment. Spoiler alert: All but one had little to no identifiable or posted anti-racist policy or actionable steps prepared to achieve equitable treatment for all their patrons. That was a big moment in that it was able to highlight many of the issues I, and other marginalized performers, have been talking about for years in front of almost a thousand people.

The town hall, along with the various protests and marches I’ve lead, performed, and spoken at, as well as the Anti-Racism in Drag Panel I helped lead for Oaklash in August, have just helped to open people’s eyes VERY SLOWLY. What I mean by that is before the public outcry over George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, before it was popular to say BLM (Black Lives Matter) and post black squares to social media, it was very common for years for people to look at me as hotheaded, argumentative, or bullying. Now, though i still get those comments from time to time, it does feel like public sentiment is generally in agreement. Agreement still need to be acted upon though. It’s one thing to say your for anti-racism and another to actively stop supporting gay business that aren’t.

It’s interesting that as appalled as so many people were by the behavior of some of the bar representatives at the town hall, we haven’t seen anywhere near the amount of people posting follow-ups to those bars they believe have acted egregiously. If the community truly wants actionable steps towards equitable treatment and restorative justice, they need to actively and publicly holding these people accountable vs just discussing “the tea” while it’s hot and moving on.

So I said all that to say, for me, personally the panels, town halls, protests, etc have allowed the community at large to seek out and head my opinions and ideas. They’ve allowed me a platform in which I am attacked less for speaking on my lived experiences. That has been nice. As for the impact on the public, I think they’ve started a conversation that is now even harder for people to shy away from, however, whether these conversations will prove to be lip service vs the first steps towards equitable treatment for all remains to be seen.

Q

In your view, how does your drag interface with the current state that we live in in the Bay Area? What about doing the work you do gets you out of bed, into face and body, and out the door?

A

Drag always, but especially in the current state of the world, is a huge form of escapism for the general public. As with any art, be it an album, movie, ballet, drag show, what-have-you, it’s allowing the audience to forget about what’s going on in the world right now, release some of the stress, and just enjoy yourself for a little while. The world definitely needs that about now and drag has been able to evolve through the pandemic to bring that experience to as many people as possible via online drag shows i’ve done, to performing on the sidewalks while delivering food for Meals On Heels, to the drive-in shows I’ll be doing for halloween. As for what gets me out of bed to get into drag, it’s varied. The pandemic has made drag feel a little more like a chore in that we do a lot of work to film and edit and no longer are able to experience people experiencing us in the moment. I feel like that connection you have with an audience is a BIG part of the motivation under normal circumstances. So to adapt, what’s currently getting me out of bed is working on old costumes as well as making new ones. I’m focusing less on being in drag as much as possible to pump out content and more on the preparation of a one or two big projects in the near future.

Q

What’s something that a fan of your drag or of your activism has said to you? Do you feel like you make an impact to those who watch your performances?

A

Truly, the best thing anyone can say on the topic of activism or my performances is just “thank you”.

I have been fortunate enough to have received a lot of thank you’s since I started drag almost 5 years ago and it never gets old. I appreciate being appreciated. I know that my drag has had an impact. I was raised to look at every job/performance as a competition and through that competitive drive have been able to be a strong representative for not only what drag is and what it can be but also for my culture in general. For me, it’s been an honor to show up and show out as a larger than life Blaxican performer in a white dominated field and be rewarded for being unapologetically myself.  I also feel I can breathe a little easier knowing that in some ways I have even been able to give others a start and foot in the door of the drag scene through my show club poppers, that I used to run with my sister Anomalia, Maha wham, and Dj Poptart, which focused on giving new performers a place to try new things and cut their teeth in the scene.

Q

You are also quite the title holder—are there any particular titles that hold high meaning to you?

A

That’s a hard question. Again, I was brought up to look at everything i do as a competition. I was raised in sports. I played baseball, studied martial arts and gymnastics. Even the arts were a competitive thing for me. I was apart of one of the most awarded high school bands in the country and took that competitiveness into my music and theatre studies in college. So for me I just really have a blast competing. It’s just something I’ve always done and was really how I got started in drag and made a name for myself.

I will say I probably had the most fun Competing in and Winning the ones I did within the last year: Fake and Gay2020 and Turbo Pageant Online Cycle 2 and Diva of Drag2020. Each of these had a unique spin on the standard drag competitions: FaG20 was a head to head lip sync for you life-type tournament, Divas made contestants perform in outfits made from various types of household fabric like upholstery and curtains, and Turbo forced me to learn video editing programs for the online medium.

Q

We see that you all are also streaming content to Twitch? What made you all think about providing live content vs static content?

A

Truly, I followed the trend on that one. Lol I’m not a IT Queen, myself. So when people have asked me to do their shows in the past, I actually used to ask if it was live or pre-taped as means to avoid doing live shows. But since we upgraded our internet, it’s been really fun being able to do live shows, forums and talks. I think both forms of the medium are great but I’m still IT so i’m not personally producing shows at the moment but if a show has a team for that I’ll jump on anytime. It’s a lot of fun to be able to work with your friends to produce a show like pre-covid times, even if we have to do it remotely.

 


Militia Scunt at Club Poppers pre-pandemic. Photo courtesy of Facebook.Militia Scunt at Club Poppers pre-pandemic. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Militia Scunt at Club Poppers pre-pandemic. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

 

Q

In your opinion, we saw the Bay Area Queer Nightlife Panel, what meaningful changes need to happen to have an equitable and equal nightlife scene for all workers?

A

The public now needs to hold those in positions of power accountable. It’s cute to watch the twitch stream and talk about the drama but we need more than that. It is not enough to acknowledge the problems BIPoC face when it’s the trending topic only to let the conversation die out and go about your day. If you call yourself an Ally, you need to be actively fighting for the equitable treatment of other just as passionately as you were when you were posting protest photos back in march on all your social media platforms. The time for the Black Square is over. Speak up, Speak out, and continue to do so. It feel like at this moment all conversations have to be initiated by Black People specifically. It’s not right for that burden to be put solely on us anymore. If we’re not done fighting, our allies shouldn’t be either. If we don’t have the luxury and privilege to take a break from fighting for our equitable treatment yet, our allies should be ever present by our side fighting for our rights.

Q

Can you tell us one moment from your past that threw you off the tracks (a comment by someone, a barrier you couldn’t overcome, etc) and how did you pick yourself up and continue to carry on? Or if you didn’t, what were your key takeaways from that particular interaction?

A

Oof! There’s been many times i’ve struggled with trying to understand where i fit into the community as well as the industry. As Black performers, often a lot more is expected from us than of our paler counterparts and though we do go above and beyond, as is ingrained in many of us by our culture, we are often not met with the same adoration be it monetarily, with a follow, share, or like on social media, or a viral video, or constant bookings, etc. That has been extremely frustrating and the same goes for the hundreds of tv show auditions I’ve partaken in to no avail, especially when you see others being given the opportunities for much less.

My take away from these experiences have always been the same: Self-evaluate and Try again. Yes, as BIPoC we are going to have a harder time getting equal opportunities for the foreseeable future BUT if you don’t try again you’ll never make it. You have to truly look at every attempt as an opportunity that you are worthy of. With consistent effort and rigorous honing of your skills, I truly believe you will be ready when the stars align. I would’ve never dreamt that this would be my life right now but life has a way of taking you where you need to be and getting you there at the right time.

Q

Also, tell us more about what you’re doing with your music coming in the last couple months of 2020?

A

Awe, I love this question. Music has always been my first passion and I am currently working on some new material as well as working on possibly opportunities to get in front of a larger audience. So more on that in the near future BUT in the meantime if you are interested in slapping to some Militia Music you can find it over on Soundcloud under Militia SF!

Q

Lastly, who do you champion?

A

 I champion the marginalized. Periodt. Of course, my focus has always been most on BIPoC issues like racism, discrimination, colorism, tokenism, inequitable treatment, micro-aggressions, etc. But I believe as long as anyone is mistreated, the easier it is for their neighbor to fall victim. So as long as a group of people is marginalized be it BIPoC, Trans-People, Femme people, Disabled People, whoever it may be, that’s who I’m championing.


Class Of 2020: MILITIA—Drag Queen & Singer
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