Formerly enslaved queer freedom fighter William Dorsey Swann, the Queen.
February 2, 2020 9:26 AM Subscribe
Born in Maryland around 1858, Swann endured slavery, the Civil War, racism, police surveillance, torture behind bars, and many other injustices. But beginning in the 1880s, he not only became the first American activist to lead a queer resistance group; he also became, in the same decade, the first known person to dub himself a “queen of drag”—or, more familiarly, a drag queen. The Nation: The First Drag Queen Was a Former Slave. Pink News: Researcher says first self-described drag queen was a former slave who ‘reigned over a secret world of drag balls’ in the 1800s.