GLAAD IS KINDA IGNUNT: Drag comedian Shirley Q. Liquor condemned for racist stereotypes while never accused of defaming gays
BY DANIEL KUSNER
It was a prisoner exchange.
Last week, GLAAD denounced Charles Knipp, the polarizing Texas-bred comedian who created Shirley Q. Liquor, a drag character who parodies African-American culture and speech patterns.
Some people find Shirley’s ebonics-laced monologues side-splittingly hilarious. Some can’t get past the idea that Knipp is a white dude.
Why did this suddenly happen last week? Not because it’s Black History Month.
Los Angeles-bases political commentator Jasmyne Cannick pointed out a compelling contradiction: GLAAD slammed “Grey’s Anatomy” star Isaiah Washington (a black dude) for using the word “faggot ” when referencing fellow cast member T.R. Knight.
So Cannick pressured GLAAD to condemn Knipp — a white gay dude — because some people think Shirley’s jokes are racially offensive.
GLAAD caved and issued a press release.
The words “blackface,” “offensive caricature” and “harmful depiction” leapt off the release. So did this sentence: “While our work at GLAAD is about promoting fair, accurate and inclusive media representations of the LGBT community, this issue has risen to a level of visibility and importance that we feel compelled to add our voice.”
Oddly, GLAAD never accuses Shirley Q. Liquor of defaming gays.
This past weekend’s episode of “Saturday Night Live” featured the wonderfully talented Darrell Hammond in Jessie Jackson drag arguing about Barack Obama’s blackness. Is anyone screaming “coon minstrel show” at Hammond?
No one is that stupid. And Hammond is entitled to comedic license.
Not granting the same license to Shirley Q Liquor is just ignunt (Shirley’s trademark pronunciation for “ignorant,” which Margaret Cho uses in standup routines).
If GLAAD wants to police the funny business, then we’ll all have to re-consider laughing at the pioneering work of Lenny Bruce, Chris Rock, Richard Pryor, Sascha Baron Cohen and RuPaul, who hired Shirley Q. on her last album.
Last week, Knipp, who performed at Wigstock 2005 (as church-lady Betty Butterfield), responded to a Dallas Voice e-mail, seeing if he had a response to GLAAD’s press release.
“Honestly, I think it's always a bad idea to deconstruct or defend comedy. It's either funny or it's not. The artist's job is to put it out there and let the audience make up their own minds about what it all means,” he wrote. “Amazing how much shit one Texas drag queen can stir up, ain't it?”