The press conference should be on the news this evening for all to see, but Bebe Sweetbriar, one of today’s meeting attendees had the following statement for the fans waiting for news:
“I know many of you are waiting with baited breath on the outcome of the Facebook meeting, and I can say the result we hoped for: acknowledgement by Facebook that the real name policy is flawed and needs to be changed; that a timeline to correct the policy needs to be set; that an interim plan needs to be put into place to stop further lock outs until a permanent solution is put into action; and more: we did not walk away with. However, FACEBOOK did acknowledge that they want to work with the community to find ways that the existing policy works for everybody and is not disproportionally harmful to anyone…… So, we are waiting for another meeting date that would include people from FACEBOOK that can actually make some decisions at the table. In the meantime, all of you out there who are able and willing to go through with a protest need to be prepared to mobilize if the matter at hand doesn’t move forward at a pace of urgency. The 2pm press conference should be on every local news station for they were ALL present at City Hall. David Campos Campaign Headquarters, Michael Williams, Steven Heklina Grygelkoand others spoke eloquently to the press about the Facebook meeting. The tight us far from over #MyNameis#BeBeSweetbriar.”
We can’t applaud Sister Roma enough for standing up in what she describes feels like a “David & Goliath” situation. But it’s because she’s Roma that so many people in the LGBTQ community are able to do what they do without feeling ashamed or belittled. She’s not about to let Facebook stomp on the community. We anxiously await what’s next and hope it’s a compromise that allows for the safety of all Facebook users.
Sister Roma has been the face of the fight for this “real name” witch hunt by Facebook. She’s made it abundantly clear this is not just about “a bunch of drag queens bitching” but it’s also about the safety of some people who chose to use a different name on Facebook. To that point, Sister Roma has asked people to email Roma@TheSisters.org with real life stories leading to the change of their Facebook profile from their “real name” to an alias. She’s been floored by the outpouring of responses she’s received.
She stated the following this afternoon:
“I am overwhelmed and moved to tears by the literally hundreds of emails I have received from people who are sharing their compelling stories explaining why they don’t use their “real” name on Facebook. I want you all to know that you are not alone, there are many people who were abused, shunned, discriminated against, fought custody battles, survived addiction, and maintain profiles that are very real and very separate from your legal identity. You are REAL, you are important, and your voice will be heard. I am trying my best to reply to everyone. I appreciate you all. Stay strong and safe and be proud of who you are!”
The resolution is clear as mud at this point. We received this information from the group organizing the protest which was originally set to happen Tuesday September 16 at 11AM at Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park.
On Monday morning Facebook accepted an invitation extended by members of the San Francisco drag community and Supervisor David Campos to hold a public meeting regarding the company’s real name policy.
San Francisco drag queens including Sister Roma, Heklina, BeBe Sweetbriar and Lil Miss Hot Mess have recently launched the hashtag #MyNameIs to protest the crackdown on profile names. The group had previously threatened a Tuesday morning protest at Facebook headquarters unless the company accepted an invitation to meet with the drag and transgender community.
In recent weeks drag performers have had their Facebook accounts suspended due to a policy requiring them to use their “legal name” in their profile. They assert that they should have the right to determine their own online identities. Many drag queens and members of the transgender community have also expressed concern that not allowing them to use their chosen name is a safety issue as it outs their real names and information.
Supervisor Campos, who extended the invitation to Facebook on Friday says “I am glad that Facebook has accepted our invitation to engage in a meaningful public dialogue with the drag queens and members of the transgender community who have been affected by the profile name policy. We know that many Facebook employees live in San Francisco and enjoy the contributions to nightlife that Heklina, Sister Roma and others have made. This will be a great opportunity for Facebook to constructively engage with its neighbors”
Sister Roma, a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, says “This issue is way bigger than a bunch of drag queens complaining because we can’t use our stage names. This policy is discriminatory and potentially dangerous to a variety of Facebook users including abused and battered women, bullied teens, political activists, sex workers, and especially members of the transgender community; all examples of people who use pseudonyms to ensure their safety and privacy. I am glad that Facebook is willing to meet with us to address our very real concerns.”
Heklina, founder of the legendary Trannyshack party stated “We gave Facebook a chance to meet with us and I am glad that they took it. Having my profile suspended and my name questioned has been a very frustrating experience. I’m looking forward to working with them to change this policy.”
**The latest was posted to the event page of the protest.
After a conversation today with Sister Roma and Supervisor David Campos, Facebook has agreed to meet with representatives from communities affected by their “real name” policy on Wednesday. This is an historic victory, and we’ve decided to *POSTPONE* our protest and give them a chance to proactively change their policy and ensure online safety and authenticity for everyone.
BUT, that doesn’t mean this is over! Please keep spreading the word and building the buzz in three ways:
1. Keep sharing on social media! Use the hashtag #MyNameIs across all platforms, and we’ll be releasing graphics for profile pictures and whatnot soon.
2. Looking to chat in person? Come to the Harvey Milk Club’s meeting tomorrow, Tuesday 9/16 at the Women’s Building. We’ll have an open forum from 8pm-9pm on the message we want to deliver to Facebook.
3. Share this update and stay tuned for more! We don’t know how this will go — we may need to ride the bus to Menlo Park after all!
We’ll keep a close eye on the situation and keep everyone informed, follow our blog for the latest on this and all drag issues. Be sure to support your local drag queens as they are all subject to this horrible discrimination.
It’s been all over social media and the internet, Facebook is targeting drag queens in their latest effort of “identity validation.” But one queen has stood up and said “Oh No She Betta Don’t” to Facebook, Sister Roma. She took a few minutes out of her busy day to speak with us about the whole ordeal. She told us it all started with the notification that she had to change her name. When she wanted to get in touch with someone about the policy she said it was near impossible to get in touch with them.
She submitted her inquiry to Facebook, received the “thank you” notification and thought it would end there. She ended up getting a call from Facebook and they’re setting up a phone meeting with the executive in charge of the policy that started this whole ordeal. The exciting part is Sister Roma has also been contacted by David Campos, Attorney and Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who asked for information on her side of the story.
Facebook has asked the performers to update their profiles to their “real names” and establish pages for their drag personas. Since the pages receive less viewership and require payment to “boost” the posts, there are obvious financial motivations behind Facebook’s newest venture, however, as Sister Roma put it, “I’m an activist and a fundraiser and the way I use Facebook is to raise awareness on social issues,” and “all of this honestly is just trying to do my work as a sister.”
When people who know Sister Roma look for Sister Roma on social media, they don’t look for her alter ego Michael Williams, who we thought had stolen Sister Roma’s identity, they look for the iconic Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, Roma. It’s also important to remember, altruistic figures like Roma are not the only people who could be affected by a policy like this. There are people who’s identity must be hidden from abusers or the like. As she said, “this is not just about a bunch of drag queens bitching about their stage names…”
There is a Change.org petition out to help get this issue resolved, be sure to sign and share with friends and family. We also found it interesting that our own personal Facebook profile is not our legal name as we have combined our names together to share our profile, no one has come after us… yet. But we’re sure if they do, we’re running to Sister Roma and her massive influence for help. Be prepared for an impromptu march to the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park.
TAKING IT TO THE STREETS. We need bodies. PLEASE SHARE.
We are mobilizing! PROTEST THE LEGAL NAME POLICY at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park on Tuesday 11am. Meet at 9:30 am, Safeway parking lot on Market and Church. Dress in your CHOSEN identity. Bring signs, bullhorns. Make some noise. Expect press. WE NEED BODIES TO SHOW THEM WE ARE REAL. Please share. Use the Hashtag #MyNameIs_______.#MyNameIsRoma
Drag queens are being asked to change their drag names on Facebook. The new policy is requiring them to change their “Facebook names” to their “real names.” Check out some of the outrage from queens like Heklina, Sister Roma and more…
“Fuck you Facebook! If you weren’t so important as a marketing tool I would quit you. You made me change my name. The “Grygelko” part is my real last name……” – Heklina
“I am officially PISSED OFF and creeped out by Facebook. I went to respond to a message from my Sister Unity and this is what I found. You’ll notice that all threads from previous messages plus current ones about the Name Change on Facebook were deleted. WHO decided these messages were abusive or spam? Not me. This is censorship.#MyNameIsRoma“