In 2022, while on assignment covering Ukrainian Easter services in Pennsylvania’s coal country, Carolyn Kaster initiated a conversation with a local waitress and was invited to her cousin’s drag performance. Kaster, who previously worked in Harrisburg, knew that when people hear “coal country” they think of mostly blue-collar professions, like miners, farmers, and not drag shows. At this performance, she would be introduced to members of the Daniel drag family, and she started to wonder if she could show the bigger picture.
Kaster stayed in touch, and for more than a year she was able to gain their trust and showed that the Daniels are firmly woven in the fabric of the larger community. They’ve hosted sold-out bingo to raise money for a local theater. They pack bars and restaurants for Mimosas & Heels Drag Brunches for bridal parties and members of the military.
As lawmakers in red states across America are pushing to restrict drag performances, Kaster’s photos and accompanying words, with the contribution from Cal Woodward and Lynn Berry, help show that this is more than just entertaining, but a way of life.