Drag queens dress down Facebook over names

ERIC RISBERG/AP
Supervisor David Campos
facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

San Francisco drag queens are sparring with Facebook over its policy requiring people to use their real names, rather than drag names such as Pollo Del Mar and Heklina. But the world's biggest social network is not budging from its rules.

In recent weeks, Facebook has been deleting the profiles of self-described drag queens and other performers who use stage names because they did not comply with the social-networking site's requirement that users go by their real names on the site.

On Wednesday, Facebook declined to change its policy after meeting with drag queens and a member of the Board of Supervisors. The company said it usually deletes accounts with fake names after investigating user complaints.

“This policy is wrong and misguided,” said Supervisor David Campos, who was flanked by seven drag queens during a press conference at City Hall.

The drag queens and others in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community say many Facebook account holders fear using their real names for a variety of reasons, including threats to their safety and employment.

“I have crazy family members who I don't want contacting me through Facebook,” said a self-described drag queen who calls herself Heklina.

Facebook said it temporarily restored hundreds of deleted accounts for two weeks. After that, the users will have to either change their name to their real name, or convert their profile to a fan page.

Campos and the drag queens, led by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a San Francisco group of drag performers and activists that's been around since 1979 — say they plan another meeting with Facebook and are hopeful that the company will ultimately alter its policy.

If Facebook doesn't change its policy, the drag queens at City Hall on Wednesday said they would organize protests and boycotts.

“Abused women, bullied teens, transgender people … [there are] a million different people with a million different reasons to use fake names,” said Sister Roma, a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Facebook says it policy “helps prevent bad behavior, while creating a safer and more accountable environment.”

The company says performers and others have other ways of keeping their stage identities on the site, including creating pages that are meant for businesses and public figures.

In Other News