Prizm News / May 30, 2019 / By Brad Henry
A conversation with Selena T. West following the headline making news of her canceled workshop
By Brad Henry
It was the drag drama heard round the world this week: Drag 101, a June 5 event requested by local teen patrons of the Delaware, Ohio library, was canceled due to threats and security issues. Selena T. West, a 9-year drag veteran, was set to present at the event. The story has been since been picked up by several national media outlets
West is a former Miss Gay Ohio America, Miss Gay Ohio USofA Newcomer, as well as a part of the West Drag Family that include Virginia and Nina West. Prizm spoke with Selena following the cancelation to get her thoughts on what went down and where she heads next.
Brad: What was the inspiration of the Drag 101 class?
Selena: The inspiration for the class was just wanting to provide a service for a need in that community and to foster education about an art form. I’m personally inspired by a wide variety of things but I’m motivated by the want and need to be onstage, and a willingness to create positive change in my community.
When did Elizabeth Johnston, “The Angry Mommy,” notice the event?
The “activist mother” noticed the event on Monday (May 27). She then mobilized her many followers to launch a full assault on the library’s phone lines and email. She uses fear and hateful fake news rhetoric to demonize the LGBT community. Her followers often times use veiled threats, which I believe she is fully responsible for.
Johnston bragged on Facebook that she personally alerted her 55,000 followers and asked them to call the library. After this, you have said that you had to block your Instagram and Facebook accounts due to the threats. Do you have a sense of who may have contacted the library and what the callers were conveying?
They were mostly made up of her followers. The library confirmed that the area codes were mostly from areas outside of that county. Her followers believe her. When she calls gay people pedophiles, they believe that, and their responses were vile to say the least and borderline threatening.
Have you ever experienced threats before?
I grew up gay in a small town. There were times I was called a faggot every single day. However, I have never experienced hatred this intense before. These bigots truly believe their convictions and it’s a wake up call.
Throughout this experience, you have elected to take the high ground. Why respond in the way that you have?
I don’t think we as a community get anywhere if we don’t listen. Not listening to an opposing side is how you get Trump. I can be civil and keep my head held high. I don’t know if that “activist” can do the same.
You have a supportive drag family and Nina came forward on Drag Race regarding her experience at Denison University. How has your drag family supported you during this event?
Virginia West is my drag mother and she has been unmoving in her support of me and this event. I learned activism and giving back from her. She has raised well over two million dollars for charity. That legacy is something we as a family are all proud of.
What advice would you give to anyone, especially youth, exploring drag?
My best advice is to explore and study. Drag is art, no matter what others might say, and there are so many styles and facets. Be brave and push yourself.
What message do you have for your fans and people exploring the culture of drag?
I want everyone to know that the positive has greatly outweighed the negative in this situation. Don’t let this fear campaign deter you from exploring a beautiful art form. I have received way more positive messages than not.
You are going to do an event at the Secret Identity Comics. Are you planning for other events as well?
I am thrilled that I have had a lot of people approach me about future events. We are going to start trying to make Drag 101 a monthly class around Ohio. I’m excited to educate, and happy to remind everyone that when they go low, you should go West.