A Manhattan Drag Artist Running For City Council Is Out-Raising Opponents


The picture of Marti Allen-Cummings featured on their marketing campaign web site reveals a New York Metropolis Council candidate who clearly stands out from the usual pack of politicians — posing outdoors of the Stonewall Inn, mic in hand, and declaring, “[I’ll] carry your voice to Metropolis Corridor.” For Allen-Cummings (who makes use of they/them pronouns) what you see is what you get: a working drag artist with moxie to spare.

The intersectionality of efficiency artwork and politics is nothing new. For Allen-Cummings it’s fully built-in of their marketing campaign for the seat representing Manhattan’s seventh Council District masking Harlem, Hamilton Heights, and parts of Washington Heights.

“Drag has all the time been political, and has all the time been rooted in political motion and activism,” Allen-Cummings mentioned. “From Occupy Wall Avenue—which appears like a billion years in the past—to now, drag has taught me about neighborhood organizing, and neighborhood constructing and dealing to assist our weak communities.”

As they’ve raised their profile, Allen-Cummings’s marketing campaign struggle chest and endorsements give them a viable shot at turning into the primary out non-binary lawmaker in Council historical past. Present filings present Allen-Cummings raised $236,250 by small-dollar donations stretched by the town Marketing campaign Finance Board’s 8 to 1 matching program, coming forward of fellow candidate Shaun Abreu by a number of thousand {dollars}.

The fundraising success is coupled with a number of endorsements for Allen-Cummings, which embrace backing from state Senators Gustavo Rivera, Alessandra Biaggi, Julia Salazar, and Councilmembers Dromm and Van Bramer. Allen-Cummings additionally acquired an endorsement from the Victory Fund, the nationwide group that backs LGBTQIA candidates.

“I by no means thought I would be any individual who would run for workplace, I by no means thought that was one thing I might do,” Allen-Cummings mentioned. “To have folks consider within the work that we’re doing is thrilling.”

Allen-Cummings introduced a run for workplace in September 2019, turning into considered one of 14 candidates vying to succeed Mark Levine, who’s term-limited. They’re additionally trying to proceed finishing up the work by the LGBTQ caucus comprised of Jimmy Van Bramer, Carlos Menchaca, and Speaker Corey Johnson, who’re all term-limited, and whose departures might depart the Council with none assured illustration from the LGBTQIA neighborhood.

Born in Maryland, Allen-Cummings arrived in New York Metropolis in 2004 as a scholar working two jobs to make ends meet. It was through the 2011 Occupy Wall Avenue motion that Allen-Cummings discovered energy within the protest motion, and so they later shifted their expertise in road politics to the neighborhood board, serving on Manhattan’s CB 9. Additionally they began the Hell’s Kitchen Democrats Membership.

Ought to Allen-Cummings win, it could imply that the district would go to a different legislator that’s not Black or Dominican, the district’s dominant demographic.

With a platform that features scaling again police funding, bolstering the town’s reasonably priced housing inventory, desegregating the general public faculty system, and advocating for a $20 minimal wage, Allen-Cummings has discovered their profession path as a drag artist intertwined with activism. It carries a practice that’s manifested for many years in New York Metropolis politics, relationship again to the Stonewall rebellion in 1969.

Earlier than bars, eating places, and nightclubs shuttered final March, Allen-Cummings labored as a drag entertainer at these venues. The calls for of working whereas campaigning would usually conflict in pre-pandemic days, and in some cases, voters noticed them campaigning in drag, which they credited as a “nice ice breaker to speak to folks.”

“The drag gig begins at 11 p.m., the neighborhood board or the marketing campaign occasion is at 6 p.m. So I haven’t got time to get on my face,” Allen-Cummings recalled. “I am going to roll up in my wig and outfit as a result of it is an extension of who I’m. And a few of our supplies have me in drag.”

Their pitch for underscoring New York Metropolis’s working poor neighborhood wrought by the pandemic seems to have struck a chord, with supporters that embrace actors, bartenders, and the unemployed fueling their marketing campaign.

The first is on June twenty second, coming practically two years from the time Allen-Cummings introduced a run. At one level, Allen-Cummings was requested whether or not “being a drag queen will hinder how folks will view you as a candidate.”

“I mentioned ‘no,’ as a result of my job is a job. And I really like my job. I really like being a drag artist,” Allen-Cummings mentioned. “I do know what it is wish to work in our small companies, our bars and our eating places who’re struggling proper now. I do know what it is wish to reside paycheck to paycheck.”