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Drag performers chosen as Milwaukee Pride Parade Grand Marshals for first time

By Mariam Mackar,


As thousands prepare to march in Milwaukee’s annual Pride Parade, a group of 11 are gearing up to lead the pack.

Dev S. Tate, Richard Fitzwell, and Leo Long are Milwaukee-based drag kings joining a group of drag queens and performers as this year's parade Grand Marshals.

“I cried a little bit I’m not gonna lie,” said Dev S. Tate. “It was a really sweet gesture and to be included as a drag king artist, that meant a lot to me.”

“We're all going to lead the pride parade together,” said Richard Fitzwell. “And that’s a first for this city and for our community-- that’s definitely what it’s all about.”

They all say this role means even more to them during a time where legislation in different parts of the country is trying to regulate drag performing.

“Drag is just a way for us to express kind of what we're going through in our lives, what we're feeling,” Leo Long explained. “I think now, just to have that visibility, and be like ‘we aren't going back in the closet, we aren't giving up our rights, we're not going quietly.’”

Fitzwell agreed, “If you don’t think that we should exist as people, like at all, and you wanna pass laws against our existence, that’s something that you should really look at in yourself.”

TMJ4’s Mariam Mackar asked the group if it was going to be emotional having drag performers leading the parade this year.

“Absolutely,” said Fitzwell. “I mean, we love all the people in the group, and some of them we've worked with for decades.”

That history of performing with pride despite the challenges will be walking alongside all of them on Sunday.

“It’s this shared history that we're bringing with us as this group of performers,” said Long. “And we need all our strengths to be able to continue to have the freedoms that we deserve and the equality that we deserve. It’s just a beautiful type of representation of that.”

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