London-based drag queen Vanity von Glow has appeared on TV to defend her appearance at Day for Freedom - an event organised by far-right campaigner Tommy Robinson.
Billed as a day to celebrate and defend freedom of speech, multiple news outlets who attended the event described racist overtones throughout. VICE even reported that if the Day for Freedom is anything to go by, the far-right is “using free speech as a cover for bigoted ideas”.
Vanity appeared on stage at the event and performed a Shania Twain song. Fans heavily criticised her decision to associate herself with such an event and, as the backlash mounted, several venues, including Her Upstairs and Phoenix Arts Club, severed professional ties with her.
This prompted Vanity to write a lengthy Facebook post to defend her decision.
The drag performer described Gavin McInnes, founder of far-right men's organisation Proud Boys, as “a total gentleman backstage”. McInnes has previously described trans people as "gender n******" and "stupid lunatics", complained about "sexless, depressed, old, chubby dykes" and labelled closeted gay men as "sociopaths".
But following reports that Muslim freedom of speech advocate Ali Dawah was banned from speaking at the event by Robinson, Vanity took to Facebook again to disavow this decision.
Despite opening her original Facebook post by stating that she had turned down an invitation to explain herself on TV, Vanity has appeared on Sky News to further explain her situation.
When probed on the reaction that she has received from “the left”, Vanity responded:
They’re calling me a fascist for having associated myself with the event.
She also shared her disapproval at those who seek to undermine her primary source of income simply because they disagree with her decision to perform in front of far-right protesters and activists, many of whom have publicly opposed LGBT+ rights and expressed racist views.
The problem is that the far left don’t just go for calling you names. Their party trick at the moment is to go for your source of income.
At the moment they’ve been making sure that my shows are cancelled, they want to see me unemployed, possibly homeless. It’s quite an aggressive tactic simply for disagreeing with my motives for attending an event.
Vanity has received many supportive reactions to the appearance on Twitter. But some have pointed out that surely respecting freedom of speech, or “diversity of opinion” as Vanity describes it, means accepting that some people won’t want to associate with you following such a performance.