Kamala Harris camply goes where Mike Pence could never – snapping a ‘halleloo’ fan with Drag Race legend Shangela

Reiss Smith
·4-min read

Kamala Harris, America’s new vice-president elect, has won the only endorsement that really matters: that of Drag Race legend Shangela.

“Halleloo for Harris,” Shangela wrote on Instagram Sunday (November 8), hours after Harris was elected America’s first female, Black and Indian-American vice president.

“VP elect Kamala Harris is such an icon and I feel so honoured to have her about to join Joe Biden to lead this country to a brighter day,” Shangela wrote. “And she pops the halleloo fan like a PRO!”

To prove her point, Shangela shared a video taken last October, when Harris – then running for the Democratic presidential nomination – made a surprise visit to a West Hollywood gay bar

Outside the Abbey, Harris paused to take a selfie with the Drag Race legend, who was out of drag at the time.

After fumbling with Shangela’s “halleloo” fan, the California senator picked it up and executed a perfect “thorp” to the delight of the gathered crowd.

Shangela wrote at the time: “I can tell you that [Harris] has been and will continue to be a fierce ally for our community.

“I don’t agree with every decision she’s ever made but I can tell you my hope is that as she pushes forward she grows even more in tune with the needs of every member of the LGBTQIA+ family.”

Harris visited the Abbey ahead of an LGBT-focused Equality Town Hall in Los Angeles, during which she vowed to end the epidemic of violence against trans people.

“There has to be serious consequence and accountability when it [the murder of trans people] happens which means there needs to be a safe place for the members of our transgender community to go when they have been exposed to that kind of harm and we know there’s not always a safe place,” she said.

It followed a similar event a month earlier, during which Harris was put on the spot over a brief she sent while serving as California’s attorney general, which sought to deny two trans inmates gender-affirming surgery.

She explained of her actions: “When that case came up, I had clients, and one of them was the California Department of Corrections. It was their policy. When I learned about what they were doing, behind the scenes, I got them to change the policy.”

She added: “I commit to you that always in these systems there are going to be these things that these agencies do. And I will commit myself, as I always have, to dealing with it.”

She was latter commended by trans activist and Pose star Angelica Ross (who hosted the September event) for holding herself accountable.

Kamala Harris’ LGBT+ rights record.

Kamala Harris has been widely hailed an LGBT+ ally. As attorney general in California, she fought against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, blocked a “kill the gays” initiative that called for the legal execution of queer people and helped eliminate the gay/trans panic defence.

Her commitment to the queer community is in stark relief to the actions of current vice president and proud homophobe, Mike Pence, however her record is not without its blemishes.

As well as the concerns raised around Harris’ record on trans rights, some have also questioned her history regarding sex work and policing.

As attorney general Harris fought to close down a platform many sex workers used to vet potential clients. She was later one of many Democrats in the Senate to support SESTA/FOSTA, a pair of anti-sex-trafficking bills which sex workers have widely criticised, arguing that they prevent them from being able to do their work safely and independently.

Today, however, Harris supports decriminalisation of sex work. She says that her previous stance (she once called decriminalisation “completely ridiculous”) was a result of her wanting to criminalise pimps and clients, an explanation which has not assuaged everybody’s concerns.

On policing, Harris used to proudly refer to herself as a “top cop”, a label which now haunts her. She has been accused of standing by as Black people were murdered by police, rejecting pleas to intervene and investigate police shootings, refusing to reform parole programs and enforcing laws which sent a disproportionate number of Black people to prison.

Her position appears to have evolved in recent years however, and in June she spoke about “reimagining how we do public safety in America”. She also drafted the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act with Cory Booker, which seeks to combat racial bias in policing as well as police misconduct and the use of excessive force.

Despite these marks on her record, Harris’ ascension to the second-highest office in the US has been welcomed gladly by LGBT+ and other human rights groups.

Equality California executive director Rick Chavez Zbur said: “From the battle for marriage equality to the struggle for safety and justice for our transgender friends and family, Kamala Harris has always been on the front lines of our movement, standing shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ+ community. Tonight, we couldn’t be happier to help her shatter so many glass ceilings that have at times before felt unbreakable.”