Columbus drag queen talks about Facebook's name policy

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Facebook apologized to drag queens who had their accounts blocked a few weeks ago.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook officials were trying to block fake or duplicate accounts which make up about 1.3 billion users.

Christopher Shawn Carter, 43, has his Facebook profile as Candy O'Hara - his drag queen name. Carter says he understands Facebook's concern and policy for people to use their real names, but he also believes it's important for people to use the names they want to go by.

"My name is important to me because it's an extension of who I decided to be," Carter said. "It's who I want to be, and who I discovered I always was. Names have always been a sticking point with anybody who found their lives evolving beyond their first idea of themselves."

Carter said his drag queen name, Candy Elizabeth O'Hara, is important because his mother helped him come up with it about 20 years ago.

"Two things my mom made sure were good were Halloween and my birthday," Carter said. "I was always theatrical and outgoing even as a child. I could be whoever I wanted to be on Halloween, and my mom had a talent for making great costumes out of old fabrics and clothes. One day, mom dared me to make a French maid costume for Halloween because I said there was no costume I couldn't make and look good. She bet me $50."

Carter said he wore the costume he made and stood behind some kids on Halloween night. Carter said his mother didn't think anything of it, and a few seconds after she closed the door, she realized the person in a French maid costume was her son.

"She gave me $50, and told me I needed to visit a bar downtown," Carter recalled. "I was surprised she even knew where a gay bar was. I told her I didn't have a name. She said, 'well, it's Halloween and what is everyone looking for?' Candy. So that's where Candy came from."

Carter also explained he got Elizabeth from Elizabeth Taylor and O'Hara from Scarlett O'Hara, the protagonist in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind.

Carter said he heard about a drag queen in Savannah that Facebook reached out and apologized to.

"I was told Facebook apologized to the drag queen," Carter said. " I know they were trying to enforce people to use their authentic names. I was a little concerned about their policy, but Facebook is still a great tool for entertainers. We no longer have to send press packs to places we want to perform. We can now just send people links to our videos to get a gig. It's easier now."

Facebook explained earlier this month, it wasn't trying to enforce its users to use legal names. Rather, Facebook wanted the users to go by their authentic names or names they go by on a daily basis to avoid scams and other issues.

"When people find an outlet that allows them to decide just a small portion of their life, I don't think it's a bad thing," Carter said.

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