Earlier today, drag queens and supporters, backed by supervisor David Campos, met with Facebook representatives at the social media’s headquarters in Menlo Park. The hopeful outcome for the meeting was a quick resolution to the Facebook name change “attack” that has been affecting so many drag queens over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, this was not how things played out…
Sister Roma, the drag queen who has been the biggest voice in opposition to the policy, released this statement (ironically, via Facebook):
[quote]Facebook refuses to agree that the legal name policy is unfair and discriminatory.
“They acknowledged that although Facebook has the legal name policy they do not enforce it.
“While we could not get them to budge on the actual policy they did seem more open to considering that there are flaws in the complaint review process.
“We met with Susan Gonzales, a public liason, and via skype with Monika, the person in charge of content policy. We also meet with members of the Facebook LGBT alliance. The purpose of this meeting was to establish an open dialogue and that’s what happened. I was very impressed by our team. Everyone spoke very eloquently and intelligently. Our broad community was well represented by David Campos, Steven Heklina Grygelko BeBe Sweetbriar, Tom Temprano, 3, Carmen, Nadia Kayyali, Dottielux Smith, Trisha Fogleman, Matt Cagle, Gabriel Haaland, Lil Miss Hot Mess, Alex U Alex U. Inn. Adam from Scott Wiener’s office and Mark Snyder of the Transgender Law Center. Thank you all for your passion and dedication.
“We left the meeting with an agreement that they would continue to meet with us to further hear our concerns and work together to find a compromise.
“Conversations with LGBT employees of Facebook after the meeting left me feeling a little more hopeful. They hinted that this issue has been raised internally and there have been heated debates on both sides of the legal name policy. We definitely have allies working “on the inside.”
“Shortly after the meeting Facebook announced that they would reinstate profiles of members of the LGBT community that had recently been targeted, suspended or removed. The statement further goes on to say that Facebook hopes that within 2 weeks time the users will either confirm their real identity, change to their legal names, or move to a fan page. While at first glance this seems like a grand show of support for our community it is actually a completely hollow gesture. Basically they offered to give us our profiles back so that two weeks later they could suspend them, demand we comply to their unfair and discriminatory policy, and if not, take them away again. This is completely unacceptable.
“To Facebook this is an issue of broader consequence that could take years to review, rewrite or rescind. We do not have that kind of time. Our communities profiles and identities are disappearing daily. We could be wiped out entirely in a short period of time. If we do not get adequate action from Facebook in a few weeks time I would say that we’re ready to go back to our original idea and hold a protest at their campus. They might be able to wipe us off Facebook but they’ll know we’re still here!
“We will not rest until not only drag queens, but everyone, has the right to CHOOSE how they wish to be identified on Facebook.
“Stay tuned. This is not over! #MyNameIsRoma”[/quote]
Aside from possibly boycotting the social network, there doesn’t seem like there’s much else we can do at this time to change the reality of this situation. Unfortunately, as Heklina said in a recent status, quitting Facebook has become almost impossible because doing so would mean giving up what may be the best marketing tool for drag queen performers. In protest, however, we recommend that you ask anybody you know who is spending advertising dollars on Facebook to pause their campaigns until this issue is resolved.
Also, please continue to share the Change.org petition, which as of Wednesday night has collected almost 19,000 signatures.