Over the past several years, countless streets, monuments, parks, and other public places have been renamed to erase any reference to historical figures who have fallen out of favor with modern-day progressives.
One recent variation on this trend is being proposed in the nation’s capital. If approved, the name of one prominent street in Washington, D.C., would stay the same but officially refer to someone else: the first drag queen ever recorded.
Matthew Holden, a member of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, launched his effort to honor a former slave who went on to coin the phrase “queen of drag” in reference to himself.
“We thought it would be exciting to dedicate Swann Street after William Dorsey Swann, a Black Washingtonian who was a pioneer in a lot of different ways,” Holden explained.
The street occupies a portion of Dupont Circle, which is one of the most iconic neighborhoods in D.C. It is currently named in honor of Thomas Swann, a 19th century politician who held positions including Baltimore mayor, Maryland governor and U.S. congressman.
Holden’s resolution on the matter sheds light on William Dorsey Swann, who established a local underground club known as the House of Swann. Other former slaves gathered for parties and dressed in drag, which Holden said led to persecution and criminal charges including “keeping a disorderly house” and “impersonating a woman.”
If the city council approves of the plan, Swann Street would gain a monument of some sort that shares some of the first drag queen’s story. Holden said that Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office has indicated early support for his resolution and he is optimistic that the full council will approve the plan.
“Rededicating Swann Street in honor of William Dorsey Swann would honor the history of the Striver’s Section Historic District as a Black Neighborhood and Dupont Circle’s History as the epicenter of Washington’s LGBT Community,” the resolution claims.
Lawmakers and officials elsewhere across the country have sought to promote today’s drag queens in more controversial ways, specifically by introducing children to presentations hosted by men dressed as women.
Although these events have attracted backlash from many on the right, drag queens and their supporters have frequently labeled such critics intolerant or even dangerous.
For her part, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reportedly proclaimed that drag queens “make everything better” and proposed that there should be a “drag queen for every school.”