Drag and Facebook’s Identity Problem

Brown Institute Magic Grantee Jessa Lingel co-authored a piece for The Atlanticon Facebook’s recent public apology. According to their article

After aggressively suspending the accounts of dozens of drag performers, in some cases demanding they submit legal ID to keep their profiles alive, yesterday Facebook apologized to the drag queens and the broader queer community supporting them. Their policy of requiring only “real names” in users’ profiles will now allow whatever “authentic name they use in real life.”

Adam Golub and Jessa based their Magic Grant, Bushwig, on the inadequacy of social networks like Facebook to deal with the issue of identity. Bushwig began with the idea that it’s not only drag queens that deal with complex notions of identity. As Jessa points out in her Atlantic article,

But maintaining multiple identities online is not just for drag queens. We all perform versions of ourselves. When we use two different platforms, reserving one for our professional life and another for our side interest, we’re separating two sides of ourselves using the tools available to us. When we complain about our parents commenting on our Facebook posts aimed at our friends, we’re wishing we could maintain different public faces on a platform that prefers to push them together.

The Bushwig Magic Grant has produced a Drag Arts Archive and is planning a public installation that deals with notions of identity through drag culture.