This story is brought to you by our partners at Traverse32 and göt2b.

Queen of New York unfurls the remarkable campaign of Marti Cummings, a trailblazing drag queen, activist, and political aspirant, in their quest to become New York City’s first drag queen and nonbinary council member during the city’s 2021 election. The independent documentary, which premiered to critical acclaim at NewFest, immerses viewers in Marti’s tenacious pursuit of political transformation amidst daunting obstacles and candidates.

Central to the narrative is Marti’s indomitable spirit, which ignites a fervor for change among queer activists and allies, particularly within the nonbinary community. Through Marti’s narrative, the film transcends mere electoral politics, underscoring the profound impact of authenticity and advocacy in redefining leadership. With luminaries like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilana Glazer gracing its frames, Queen of New York stands as a poignant testament to identity, activism, and resilience, painting a vibrant tableau of New York City’s diverse queer landscape.

Still of Marti Cummings in 'Queen of New York'Still of Marti Cummings in ‘Queen of New York’COURTESY QUEEN OF NEW YORK; CREDIT: EMMA FIDEL

Reflecting on their documentary, Marti Cummings shares insights into the experience of having their journey immortalized on film. They remark, “At times, it was extremely stressful given the high stakes of the campaign coupled with having a camera right there, but ultimately, it was a really wonderful experience to know that the story of our team and the work they were doing was going to be forever archived through this film.”

Moreover, Marti’s reflections on LGBTQIA representation in politics resonate deeply, emphasizing the imperative for genuine advocacy within the community’s political ranks. They assert, “LGBTQIA representation is extremely important in public office, now more than ever, especially with the onslaught of anti-trans legislation that has been introduced around the country. But just being LGBTQIA is not enough. We need queer people who will fight for our trans siblings and all of those who are marginalized within our community.”

Behind the camera, director Emma Fidel’s astute observations elucidate the challenges inhibiting diverse representation in political spheres, particularly within the LGBTQIA community. Fidel remarks, “I have been covering politics as a journalist for a number of years, and I think the thing that interests me the most is finding stories of people who are trying to upend the status quo that for so long has been white, cis, straight and male. Marti was trying to be the first drag queen and the first non-binary person in all of New York City Council. Trying to do something different is always hard, but to me, it’s so inspiring, and seeing Marti’s example inspired and empowered so many others.”

Emmy-nominated journalist and filmmaker of 'Queen of New York' Emma FidelEmmy-nominated journalist and filmmaker of ‘Queen of New York’ Emma FidelCOURTESY EMMA FIDEL

Furthermore, Fidel extols the subversive power of drag, heralding it as a catalyst for social change and inclusivity. She notes, “Drag queens have always been pillars in the queer community. Marti always says there are no limits to drag because drag is what you make of it. And that spirit is what enables drag artists to be impactful leaders and icons, both from an entertainment perspective and a political perspective.”

In addition to Marti’s trailblazing story, Queen of New York introduces audiences to Marti’s drag daughter Peachez Iman Cummings. A rising star in NYC’s nightlife scene, Peachez provides a firsthand account of supporting Marti’s campaign and the camaraderie that defined the documentary’s production. She shares, “Marti adopted me into their drag family towards the beginning of the campaign, so I thought one of the best ways I could get to know them was through working on something that was near and dear to both of our hearts: community activism. I joined the campaign as a volunteer coordinator and I got to see Marti at their most vulnerable and most exhausted, but also at their most powerful and motivated which was so inspiring and thrilling.”

Furthermore, her recollections of poignant moments behind the scenes underscore the resilience and solidarity that permeated the team. Peachez reminisces, “It was really an amazing thing to see someone with so much passion pour their energy into the campaign and their community. For Marti, the campaign gave them a home base upon which to focus their community engagement and enrichment during [the COVID-19 pandemic], one of the hardest times NYC (and the world) has ever faced.”

Still of Peachez Iman Cummings in 'Queen of New York'Still of Peachez Iman Cummings in ‘Queen of New York’COURTESY QUEEN OF NEW YORK; CREDIT: EMMA FIDEL

Marti’s impact on their community strongly resonates with göt2b Hair Color and Styling, who signed on to help finance the doc. By partnering with the Queen of New York team, led by producers Fidel, Robert Profusek, Daniel Ming, Gigi Dement, and executive producers Donna Gruneich along with TRAVERSE32’s Brendan Gaul and Brett Henenberg, the result of their collaboration epitomizes a synergy of shared values and aspirations.

Sarah Stellate, Brand Manager of göt2b Hair Color & Styling, explains how göt2b’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity and empowerment aligns seamlessly with the documentary’s ethos. She affirms, “As a brand, göt2b has always stood for inclusivity and provided products that allow for its audience to embrace what makes them unique and different. Göt2b has a long legacy of partnering with those who share in our mission to foster safe spaces, especially within the LGBTQIA community, and the brand is honored to have supported the production of this inspirational film.”

Moreover, göt2b’s support for the film epitomizes its dedication to normalizing representation and catalyzing societal change. Stellate states, “Weaving göt2b into relevant cultural moments within the drag community allows the brand to help its consumers and other members of the community achieve unapologetic self-expression and encourage the LGBTQIA audience to not just stand out, but shine.”

'Queen of New York' Key Art

Considering Queen of New York, it transcends the confines of conventional storytelling, illuminating the transformative power of authenticity, activism, and community. Marti Cummings’ indelible journey serves as a clarion call for inclusive representation in political spheres, while göt2b’s partnership underscores the vital role of brands in championing marginalized narratives. As the documentary continues to captivate audiences, its enduring legacy lies in its ability to inspire collective action and embolden voices long silenced by societal norms. In the vibrant tapestry of New York City’s queer landscape, Queen of New York reigns supreme, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring quest for equality.

Queen of New York is available online for free through the end of June on the Advocate Channel and Advocate Channel App. Download the Advocate Channel App for your mobile phone and your favorite streaming device, includingApple Store,Google Play,Roku,Apple TV,Fire TV, andGoogle TV.

A condensed version of this article was originally published in print.

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