Oral History with Daniel Hays, 1975


Daniel Hays, longtime board member of the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA), talks about his upbringing and experience living in Missouri and how he transitioned to life in Washington, D.C. He discusses how he got involved with AGLA and the types of outreach and work he has engaged in as part of the team, as well as his experience as a drag queen.

Daniel Hays was born in Central Missouri, working in politics there before moving to D.C. 15 years ago. Upon arrival in D.C., Daniel was soon connected with the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA) where he became the Vice President, and has been on the board ever since. Growing up in Missouri in a very religious, conservative, small town region was an influence on his drag persona, Muffy - this persona was in some ways a therapeutic version of everything he disliked about Christianity. While Daniel still considers himself a Christian, his experience coming out as gay after college and becoming deeply involved in the queer community as a member of AGLA and as a drag queen has led him to identify with a very different version of Christianity than was pushed on him as a child. Prior to AGLA, Daniel had a multitude of political experience - including being a Chief of Staff at the Missouri House of Representatives, and working for the Missouri Department of Labor. This political background, he believes, prepared him for his leading role at AGLA. Within AGLA, Daniel quickly advanced from Vice President to President, which he has served 4 terms as. Moving from involvement in LGBTQ+ organizations in Missouri to D.C. showed Daniel that the prevalence and amount of LGBTQ+ organizations in D.C. leads to a struggle to have volunteers and members be actively involved in. He notes that especially in Arlington, which is a very progressive and LGBTQ+ area, some people in the community take for granted the rights that they enjoy and therefore tend to be less activist. As President of AGLA, this is something Daniel had to contend with. Now, many of the LGBTQ+ organizations that were around when Daniel joined AGLA no longer exist - this led AGLA to unofficially expand their coverage area to confront the changing landscape of activist organizations. Daniel then goes on to talk about his experience as a drag queen, considering himself “old school drag”. He has done drag fundraisers for various causes and has found that people turn out for those. He helped to create the Miss Arlington Pageant for drag queens as part of AGLA, which has now been going on for 10 years. In his own personal life, Daniel spoke about how influential his drag family was as mentors, and how he had quit drag before moving to Arlington but got back into it in 2008. Daniel is big on using drag as a positive outreach tool, and hopes to increase AGLA’s activism in other LGBTQ+ spaces: particularly the fetish community and trans community. He speaks about how the LGBTQ+ community can often be divisive among itself, and how he thinks it is important for AGLA and other organizations to bring people together from different communities. Through AGLA, Daniel has been able to engage in community activism working with other organizations, such as Equality Virginia and Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). He also spoke about AGLA’s scholarship program, which provides a scholarship yearly to a high school senior, as well as some of AGLA’s keystone events including the pageant and the Equality Awards.




Original Format

Yes, recording available ( 01:10:36)
(audio mp4, 64.3 MB)


“Oral History with Daniel Hays, 1975,” Rainbow History Project Digital Collections, accessed June 25, 2024, https://archives.rainbowhistory.org/items/show/1790.

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