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We Are Family: How Drag Heals and Inspires Purpose

The ever-growing popular interest in drag goes far beyond the entertainment factor. In a society of increasing isolation and disconnection, a group of “queerdos” who routinely face physical and psychological threats (think bathrooms, locker rooms, armed forces, Aunt Anita’s house…) have established a community and fortified a defense against discrimination through radical togetherness and absurdity. These drag communities form supportive families where social structures have failed and celebrate difference in times of othering, all while laughing at themselves and life itself.

Indeed a feat worthy of worship; this is resilience on display. But laughing about the pain doesn’t make it all go away. What impact do daily threats and isolation have on the well-being of young members of the queer community?

Introducing Hopelab’s SXSW 2020 Panel: Life Lessons From Drag Mothers and Daughters. Join drag superstar Roxie Hart (titles held include Miss Gay USofA 2017; Miss Gay USofA Classic 2015; Miss Gay Oklahoma America 2011; National Entertainer of the Year F.I. 2000), Erika Rose, youth drag artist local to Austin, and Dr. Douglas Knuston, expert on health & resilience for LGBTQ+ individuals for a tea spilling session moderated by queer femme & mental health champion Caroline Fitzgerald of Hopelab.

Our panelists will discuss topics such as:
– How drag communities form fashionably, fabulous, supportive families where social structures have failed and celebrate difference in times of othering
– The impact of daily threats + isolation on the well-being of young members of the queer community and to better prevent these threats
– The life lessons on resilience we can provide to young members of the drag + LGBTQAI+ community
And in case you’re wondering the answer is- YES. There will be a drag performance so bring some dollar bills y’all.

SO how exactly do you #VoteProudly for our SXSW 2020 Panel? Just like this:

Log in or create an account here.
Give us a thumbs up.
Wash, rinse, repeat daily.

With your help, we will be able to sashay our way across the 2020 stage to talk about LGBTQAI+ mental health and drag. Voting ends on August 23rd this year, so make sure you give us a vote a day to keep the scaries away!

Meet Our Panelists:

Roxie Hart (she/her, he/him) is an accomplished, nationally recognized drag performer based in Oklahoma City, OK. Her mix of eye-catching costumes, theatrical productions, and energetic dance routines have made her a cornerstone in the drag community. She holds several major pageant titles, including Miss Gay USofA 2017, Miss Gay USofA Classic 2015, Miss Gay Oklahoma America 2011, and National Entertainer of the Year, F.I. 2000. Roxie began performing in the 1980’s in Texas and she continues to entertain audiences at venues across the United Sates and in Oklahoma City, where she lives. She is known in the drag community for her kind, humble, and supportive attitude as well as for her willingness to mentor fellow performers.


Douglas Knutson (he/him) PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Dr. Knutson serves as Communications Chair for the American Psychological Association (APA) Society of Counseling Psychology (SCP) Section on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues (SLGBTI) and on the Counsel for Counseling Psychology Training Programs (CCPTP) Standing Committee on Advocacy, Inclusion, and Diversity (SCAID). His research focuses on LGBTQ+ issues and he has published multiple articles on gender identity, distress, resilience, and drag performance in LGBTQ+ populations. Dr. Knutson is an avid fan of drag.


Introducing Erika Rose, (he/him, she/her in drag) a 13-year-old ambitious drag queen who loves makeup, wigs, and fashion. Her stunning fashion is only exceeded by her hair and makeup skills. She has been dressing in drag since she was 10 and has always had a love for hair, makeup and designer fashion. She has recently been asked to perform at a drag brunch in Austin. She was invited by the host, Nadine Hughes, a very accomplished Austin drag queen. She is known for her wit, confidence and fun-loving personality but also her ability to make the best of a bad situation.


Caroline Fitzgerald (she/her pronouns) is a queer femme & drag royalist with a passion for mental health. She works at Hopelab, a social innovation lab focused on designing science-based technology to improve the health and well-being of teens and young adults. Before Hopelab, Caroline worked for nine years as an Occupational Therapist alongside people with serious mental illness.


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