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From Prohibited To Proud:

The History of Drag in Denver


Photo close-up of Denver drag quee, Jessica L'Whor, in full stage makeup 

These days, Denver hosts drag shows nearly every night, while RuPaul’s Drag Race is making international stars of modern drag queens including Denver's own Yvie Oddly, who was recently named winner of Season 11 and America's Next Drag Superstar. Much has changed since 1954, when Denver Ordinance 315 made it illegal for "any member of the male sex" to appear in public "in the dress of the opposite sex."

Denver quit jailing its drag queens in 1973. And there’s so much more to learn about the amazing people and fascinating history of drag in Denver.

In celebration of Pride month, the I Am Denver team created From Prohibited to Proud: The History of Drag in Denver, which provided Denver's LGBTQ members and drag queens the chance to tell the story of their own community, which has been entertaining Denver crowds for generations in spite of any personal risk.

The videos below explore a variety of individual experiences of Denver drag. Check them out below. But first, watch the mini documentary we've created by taking the best of all those conversations. These are the stories of Denver's drag community told by Denver's drag community in the I Am Denver way. 

 

 

Watch Our First Mini Documentary By And About Denver's Drag Community

 

 

In this video, we get a glimpse of Yvie Oddly, the winner of Season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and America’s Next Drag Superstar, as she makes a triumphant return home for #DenverPrideFest. She’s the biggest drag star yet to come out of the Mile High City. But it wasn’t always easy. What's it like to come home after earning that kind of celebrity? Watch the video to find out.

 

Resources

  • LGBTQ Commission
    Human Rights & Community Partnerships
    City and County of Denver
 

 

LGBTQ HISTORIAN: DRAG CULTURE HAS FLOURISHED IN DENVER

 

DENVER PRIDEFEST EMCEE SPREADS LOVE & ACCEPTANCE

 

 

DENVER DRAG QUEENS SHARE THEIR STORIES

 

The Dangers of Cross Dressing Not So Long Ago

Scottie Carlyle has been doing drag in Denver since 1963, when “if you stepped toe outside that door in a dress, you immediately got arrested and went to jail.” She was chosen as the second Empress of the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire in 1975. 

 
 
 
 
 

The Transformation of a Drag Queen

Jessica L’Whor performs drag in Denver. She sees it as “the power to change someone’s day.” Follow her makeup routine and watch her transform into a drag queen, perform at a popular drag show and learn why she loves the Denver drag community.

 
 
 
 

Making a Difference Through Drag

Anthony Aragon uses his “cousin” and drag persona Lushus La’Rell “to make a difference in a different way.” Through his positions in drag royalty – and as the organizer of Denver’s Pride Parade for the past 19 years – he’s raised thousands of dollars to benefit the city’s LGBTQ community.