She Could Be the First Drag Queen Elected to Congress: 'People Can't Ignore You,' Says Maebe A. Girl
Maebe A. Girl is running as a Democratic primary challenger to Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents parts of Los Angeles County including West Hollywood and Burbank
She makes campaign appearances in lace-front wigs, brightly colored pantsuits and high heels, greeting voters under a tongue-in-cheek name, but make no mistake: Maebe A. Girl‘s bid for Congress isn’t a joke.
“It really took a minute for people to take me seriously, to realize that I’m not doing this as a stunt, I’m not doing this as a statement,” Maebe, 32, tells PEOPLE. “I’m doing this to run an election and win it.”
Yes, of course, “I could’ve run out of drag,” says Maebe, who serves on L.A.’s Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. “But I decided to run in drag because I have a more powerful voice when I’m in drag.”
“People can’t ignore you,” she says, adding, “The irony of that is the fact that on a society level, we’re completely ignored.”
LGBTQ representation in government is what motivated Maebe to announce in late June she was challenging Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff for California’s 28th district seat in the House of Representatives.
Maebe says she doesn’t have anything against Schiff, the influential longtime congressman she’s primarying in an election next March. But she believes that Schiff, who has easily won re-election in the past, is not the best representative for a district including parts of Los Angeles County such as West Hollywood and Burbank.
“We [LGBTQ people] are just as valid as any other member of society, and as such we deserve to have representation: accurate, actual representation,” Maebe says. “That means having our community members being representatives — not just having somebody who is an ally.”
Schiff, whose campaign did not respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE, is a leading voice against President Donald Trump in Congress, where Schiff chairs the House Intelligence Committee. He supports a variety of liberal policies and has advocated for LGBTQ equality.
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Maebe is genderfluid and trans and says starting drag five years ago helped her get in touch with her gender identity.
“‘Maebe A. Girl’ is, yes, it’s my stage name, but it’s also part of my identity and who I am,” she says. “I started realizing how much I enjoy being in drag and how, for me, it didn’t feel like a costume. It just felt like a natural extension of myself.”
Maebe describes herself as California’s first elected drag queen after winning her election to the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council earlier this year. (José Sarria, who ran for San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1961, was the first drag queen and openly gay person to run for office.)
As “Councilwoman Girl,” Maebe serves in drag while splitting her time between continued performances, where she sometimes riffs on political figures such as Kellyanne Conway and Melania Trump. She’s able to head straight from a meeting to a show without an outfit change.
But her politics aren’t just performance: In her short time on the neighborhood council, she won unanimous approval to create an LGBTQIA Advocates Committee to advise the council, which was one of her primary campaign goals.
Homelessness is another key issue, Maebe says. Before she moved to L.A. six years ago, she lived in Chicago, where she volunteered at a homeless shelter. She is struck now by the homelessness she sees in her district, where the rate increased by 40 percent in Burbank, to 286 people. City officials have said it is “one of the most pervasive challenges” in the state and requires a “holistic, humane approach.”
Maebe wants to work not just on creating affordable housing but on providing resources for underlying issues, such as addiction and mental health care.
“So many of these homeless individuals are just like you and me,” she says.
Addressing homelessness is part of her three-pronged campaign platform of protecting minorities, advocating for inclusion and legislating progressively.
“One of my things that I really want to do is help unify minorities and show that if we all stick together, there’s so many great things that we can accomplish together,” she says.
By running for Congress, Maebe says she is already showing just that.
“I’ve had so many people message me just telling me that they’ve been inspired, and that’s part of what has inspired me to keep going. … I want to show these queer teens that they are just as important and that, if they want to run for office, they can run,” she says. “If they want to win, they can win.”