Bay Area Photographer

Black Betty

26-year-old Black Betty Towers, formerly known as Brandon Walker, refuses to conform to any societal binaries, including gender. Her name, derived from a combination of Betty White from The Golden Girls, Ram Jam’s song “Black Betty,” and an adoption of her drag mother Grace Towers’ last name, is something that initially formed in high school. As one of 5 black kids in rural Petaluma, California, then-Brandon was often referred to as the “black” kid, yet “I felt like a white girl in suburbia,” she said. These very same labels that she detests, she said, are now heightened and increasingly attempted to be defined under our current political climate. “I have to put a label on it for Trump,” Towers said, referring to not only the color of her skin, but also the other multi-faceted aspects of her identity and self. For her, the drag community has, is, and will continue to come together as a form of protest against heteronormative constructions and oppressive ideologies and policies. “Drag has been an act of activism since day one,” Towers said.