Q&A with Drag Out The Vote's Christopher Diaz: "Every issue is an LGBTQIA+ issue"

VoteRiders Digital Communications Coordinator Erin Carden spoke with Drag Out The Vote’s Executive Director Christopher Diaz about Pride, partnership, and Drag Out The Vote’s mission. — JUNE 25, 2024 

Tell me about yourself and your role at Drag Out The Vote. 

My name is Christopher. My pronouns are he, him, his. And I am the Executive Director of Drag Out The Vote. I’ve been with Drag Out The Vote for a few years now in a number of different roles. 

I started working as an admin, then as a program manager, and now as the Executive Director. I’m not a drag artist myself, but my background is in performing arts. I got my BFA from the University of Central Florida. 

My MFA in acting from Florida State University Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. And I’m also a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association. At Drag Out The Vote, I have the privilege of working with so many incredible drag artists and activists that care so deeply about the LGBTQIA+ community and our future. My job as executive director really is to uplift and support these individuals in whatever way I can. 

What is Drag Out The Vote’s mission, and what are some of your key initiatives for 2024? 

Drag Out The Vote’s mission is to use the artistry of drag to increase participation in our democracy. One way we do this is through our Drag Ambassador program. The program is Drag Out The Vote’s most effective tool in living up to our mission to educate, register, and turn out voters. Since we started our work, Drag Out The Vote has successfully worked with more than 300 drag artists from across the country as they educate and empower communities. 

Drag Out The Vote works hard. These Drag Ambassadors work really hard to engage their fans, friends, and family in civic activism by using community and relational organizing, social media, digital events, and more. This year, in 2024, we have 50-plus ambassadors in the program, and we will recruit more folks as we move forward.

For the most part, Drag Out The Vote has primarily been in the digital space during its history. In 2024, one of our biggest initiatives is to transition into more in-person activations, whether voter registration or voter engagement and education events. We’re actively exploring plans with partners to have a number of events around the country, hopefully later this summer and in the fall.

Another initiative we have at Drag Out The Vote this year is to grow as a resource for our community. To that end, we have completely revamped our website (DragOutTheVote.org) and added a suite of voter engagement tools courtesy of our friends at Vote.org. These tools include voter verification and registration tools that let folks see what’s on their ballot, request an absentee ballot, and sign up for election reminders. 

We also have a 2024 voter pledge, which encourages our audience to commit to educating themselves about what will be on their ballot and make concrete plans to vote, whether by mail-in ballot, absentee ballot, early voting, or on election day.

Lastly, we want them to encourage their friends and families to do the same. Democracy works best when everybody is involved in the process. We encourage everyone to go to our Sashay to the Polls page, take the voter pledge, and make sure their voices are heard on Tuesday, November 5th. 

At VoteRiders and Drag Out The Vote, we celebrate Pride every day, all year round. But I’m curious if you all are doing anything extra special for Pride Month this year. 

This year, Drag Out The Vote will have the opportunity to be at New York City’s Pride Fest on June 30th. NYC Pride and the Pride Fest celebration is one of the most exciting and well-attended celebrations of the LGBTQIA+ community in the United States, if not the world. I could not be more grateful to NYC Pride for inviting Drag Out the Vote to take part in the festivities and giving us this platform. Specifically at Pride Fest, Drag Out The Vote will not only have fiercely talented drag artists performing, but we will also have a chance to connect with the audience and talk about the importance of voting and why their voice matters. The opportunity to connect civic engagement with queer joy is just very exciting.

What issues do you see driving LGBTQIA+ voters to the polls this year? 

Like any other demographic, the LGBTQIA+ community isn’t monolithic. They care deeply about a range of issues, from immigration to climate change and healthcare. Every issue is an LGBTQIA+ issue.

With that said, what I’m hearing from our community is a great deal of anxiety as it relates to the proliferation of anti-LGBTQ bills proposed across the nation over the last few years. In 2023, the ACLU tracked about 510 such bills. As of the end of May, the ACLU has tracked 515 anti-LGBTQ bills in this legislative session alone. Some of the bills proposed over the last few years target drag artists, freedom of expression and the right to make a living and trans siblings’ access to life-saving healthcare. 

Some of these bills ban trans students from participating in sports, while other bills erase and censor LGBTQIA+ voices in the classroom alongside BIPOC and other marginalized people and so much more.

What are Drag Out The Vote and VoteRiders doing in partnership to uplift LGBTQIA+ voters and ensure they have everything they need to vote? 

During Pride, our Drag Ambassadors are using their platforms to create digital PSAs (Watch them on @DragOutTheVote’s Instagram!) , bringing attention to some of these restrictive voter ID laws. They’re also highlighting the incredible work that VoteRiders does day in and day out, 365 days a year, to secure IDs for folks who need them. That’s critical.

Drag Out The Vote also added a voter ID assistance sign-up to our voter engagement tools at DragOutTheVote.org. This form allows Drag Out The Vote to connect those looking for support obtaining voter IDs in their states directly with VoteRiders. 

We might also host an in-person event this fall, but that’s still in the planning stage. Hopefully, it will happen!

Our partnership with VoteRiders is just a really great fit because Drag Out The Vote is about uplifting people who are doing good work. And that’s what VoteRiders is doing. 

Many people feel like no matter who they vote for, it won’t make a difference. What do you say to voters who feel their vote and voice don’t matter?

What I would say to them is, I hear you.

Voter apathy is real and often arises from weariness in the political system or a lack of interest in engaging in a system they don’t feel represents them. Or, as you said, they feel their voice and vote don’t matter. It’s critical that we listen to the concerns of these individuals and not simply lecture them. Acknowledging where they are is an important step to beginning a dialogue.

We need to empower these individuals and remind them that their voices matter and can make all the difference. One voice can galvanize, engage, and move their families, friends, and community into action.

One of the things I want to communicate to them is never to allow anyone to tell you that your voice and your vote don’t matter. Both are untrue and intended to suppress your vote.

It’s also important to understand that withdrawing from the political process entirely leaves the door open for others to make critical decisions as to who will represent them on the local, state, and federal levels and who you will go before when advocating for both yourself and your community in the future.

To sum it up, your vote and your voice matter. Not only do they matter, but they are needed.

What are some of the barriers that you’ve seen LGBTQIA+ voters face? Are there areas or states where these barriers are most prominent? 

I believe that, and I think we discussed it a little bit already, but I believe that one of the most glaring examples of barriers that affect the LGBTQIA community is voter ID. UCLA’s Williams Institute estimated that more than a quarter of eligible trans adults in voter ID states did not have ID documents that accurately reflect their name or gender going into the 2020 general election.

Since that election alone, we’ve seen more than 17 states add new laws that make their existing voter ID requirements even more restrictive and more confusing. 38 states have voter ID laws on the books for the 2024 election.

The vast majority of these voter ID requirements aren’t about security at the ballot box – they’re about blocking voters from accessing it. They harm people who are already underrepresented in our electorate. And the fact is, we can and must do better because, as I mentioned, democracy works best when everybody is involved in the process.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about Drag Out The Vote and our partnership? 

I just want to say to folks who want to support Drag Out The Vote, please go to DragOutTheVote.org. Make sure that you’re ready for your elections. Sign up for election reminders, check your voter registration. Everybody needs to be involved in this process. Not just this election, but every election – school board, city council, dog catcher. It’s so critical for us to be involved in every single election.

I also want to say that I just could not be more grateful to VoteRiders for the important work that you do. Not just for the LGBTQIA+ community, but for all voters. I’m proud of our partnership with VoteRiders. I really look forward to being able to continue to connect folks in need of voter IDs with such an incredible organization that truly has their backs, works hard to break down barriers, and open up access at the ballot box. 


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.