In a string of coal cities, from bingo halls to blue-collar bars, drag queens are out in full force.

Legislators are attempting to limit drag shows and, in certain instances, expand trans and gay rights in red towns all around America.

The Daniels drag family is up to something wild virtually every weekend in Pennsylvania’s coal belt.

The social hall of the Nescopeck Township Volunteer Fire Co. is having sold-out bingo fundraisers, and everyone there is giggling and singing along. Or they host Mimosas & Heels Drag Brunches for bridal parties, service members, families, and friends in the local blue-collar bars and eateries.

Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” is a favorite book for both performers and children, and they may also be reading in gardens to kids wearing their Sunday best.

A way of life anchored in soot, family, and a traditional conception of the world is colored by the glitter of small-town drag queens and kings in a string of communities that run along a coal seam.

In contrast to the furious political winds ripping at drag shows and the expanded rights of LGBTQ+ persons in red states from Utah and Texas to Tennessee and Florida, two very old traditions coexist here — and mainly peacefully, it appears.

One tradition is the idea that a family is just mom, dad, and kids.

Drag is another, older than Shakespearean times, creative representation of gender fluidity that is raucous, brash, and seismically extravagant. Bedrock, which only emerges above ground in culturally daring cities, is neither plain nor simple.

Trixy Daniels’ twin, Harpy, is a U.S. Navy sailor who has served on the USS Ronald Reagan on three different deployments. Joshua Kelley, a seaman who recently reenlisted, will soon transfer from a station in Norfolk, Virginia, to one in Spain. He plans to bring a wig “and maybe one or two cute outfits, but nothing over the top” for Harpy-style shore vacation.

The drag artists in this circle, with the exception of the twins, are related by choice rather than blood. Their home is a haven of acceptance.

Trixy remarked, “I never had someone like myself growing up, and now I get to be that for everybody else.

Alexus boosted her Halloween game once she started high school. She quickly entered her first drag show in Weishample, a small coal town in Pennsylvania.

Alexus recalls, “At this point, I still wasn’t out.” Even if I were gay, I wasn’t sure. I was aware of my attraction to boys and my adoration for all things female. Growing up, I only shared this aspect of myself with my closest friends, who didn’t really find it odd.

Jacob Kelley, a.k.a. Trixy Valentine

Joshua was the first to start drag when they were teenagers. At a 2014 amateur pageant, Jacob debuted roughly six months later wearing a white Marilyn Monroe dress.

Although Trixy’s drag is eclectic, whether it’s comical or aggressive, glitter is always present: “All I want is to shine when lights hit me.”

“A few years ago, I started learning about what it is about drag that I love so much, and that’s how I came out as non-binary. Kelley declares. It’s that feminine touch, that so-uncomplicated gesture.

“I’m not a man,” Kelley asserts. “I will never consider myself to be a man. I also don’t consider myself to be a lady. But I consider myself to be above it.

More than 300 individuals attended a bingo event sponsored by the Daniels drag family in March at the Nescopeck fire hall as a fundraiser for a nearby theater.

On social media, a tiny group of demonstrators holding signs and reciting the rosary opposite from the theater could be seen. Trixy spoke to the bingo players.

 Only nine of them are on that street, compared to the hundreds of us in this room, Trixy added. “Therefore, all I can say is that I don’t give a damn what you think. However, please do not impose it upon me and claim that I have no business being here.

“The Lord also created me,”

Trixy was decked out in a long blue wig, an overskirted Morgan Wells catsuit, and a raised fist on her chest in the Pride flag’s colors.

“Okay, let’s dial a few numbers!” said Trixy. Let’s play some bingo, please. The people applauded.

Joshua Kelley, a U.S. Navy petty officer first class and drag performer, is known as Harpy Daniels.

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which allowed LGBTQ+ people to join the military forces only if they kept their sexual orientation a secret, was in effect until 2011.

But once Kelley joined the military in 2016, he experienced the opposite, or “ask and tell.” A commander enquired as to their preferred pronoun. Joshua assured him that any pronoun will do, feeling soothed by the suggestion of acceptance in the inquiry.

The sailor is now a social media sensation who the Navy has designated as a “digital ambassador” to help the LGBTQ+ community and other oppressed groups: “I take great pride in donning this uniform.”

Drag queen Kitty DeVil, also known as Emily Poliniak

Transgender woman Kitty defines her drag as having “punk and a lot of storytelling.” She was motivated by Adore Delano, a 2014 finalist on race.

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