How Jake Anjeli’s Attire Connects To America’s Racist Past and History of LGBT Discrimination

Perhaps the most memorable figure in the siege on the capitol by white supremacists Wednesday was  “Q Shaman” Jacob Anthony Chansley, a.k.a. Jake Angeli, who told the FBI he went to Washington D.C. “at the request of the President that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C.”
Jake Angeli, donning his  wild faux-Native American costumes, is rooted in the history of  American domestic terrorism.
Angeli was seen at “freedom”  rallies around Phoenix last year protesting mask requirements in Arizona.

AZ Central writes of Anjeli: “Among the supporters of President Donald Trump who mobbed their way into the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, one – unmistakable in his fur, horned hat and painted face – was Jake Angeli, a QAnon supporter who has been a fixture at Arizona right-wing political rallies over the past year. Angeli was seen in photographs from Washington, D.C., amid protesters who turned violent and stormed the building, causing both chambers to suspend their intended action of the day: certifying the results of the presidential election for former vice president Joe Biden.”

One of the fastest rumors to circulate among the right wing  was that the person running around DC wasn’t Anjeli at all, but an actor paid to look like him.

And there is an actor running around who sometimes plays him, or rather a parody version on his OnlyFans. His names is @Illuxx1.

Gonna start calling this dude Dumpster John Snow #DumpsterJohnSnow

— Lizz “Watch my special @ Vimeo On-Demand” Winstead (@lizzwinstead) January 9, 2021

Since at least 2019, Angeli has held forth outside the Arizona Capitol shouting about various conspiracy theories, most related to the wide-ranging beliefs espoused by QAnon.

“Being masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration, loiters, remains or congregates in a public place with other persons so masked or disguised, or knowingly permits or aids persons so masked or disguised to congregate in a public place;  except that such conduct is not unlawful when it occurs in connection with a masquerade party or like entertainment if, when such entertainment is held in a city which has promulgated regulations in connection with such affairs, permission is first obtained from the police or other appropriate authorities.”

Angeli, in a 2020 interview with The Arizona Republic, said that he wears the fur bonnet, paints his face and walks around shirtless with ragged pants as a way to attract attention. Then, he said, he is able to speak to people about his beliefs about QAnon and other truths he says remain hidden.

The outfit stems from a common practice among late 17th and 18th century American insurgents who dressed in this way to parrot indigenous styles because they literally would kill tax collectors sent from Washington.

There’s a fascinating connection to LGBT history in Anjeli’s story. To combat the insurgents, the government passed a bunch of “masquerade”  laws making it illegal for men to wear make-up. By the mid 20 the century, there were few active  members, but law enforcement had a new  menace: queer men and trans women who became the target of the laws.


Queer Historian Hugh Ryan in  History magazine wrote:

Rusty Brown started dressing as a man, first as a disguise to get a factory job since she lost her war-time position as a machinist at the close of World War II, then in order to work as a drag king. This is when her troubles began.

“I have been arrested in New York more times than I have fingers and toes,” she told an interviewer from the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay History Project in 1983, “for wearing pants and a shirt.” At that time, she says, “you had to have three pieces of female attire” in order to avoid being arrested for cross-dressing.

In LGBTQ circles around the country, this was known as the three-article rule—or the three-piece law. It was referenced everywhere—including in reports about arrests in Greenwich Village in the weeks and months leading up to the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

The problem is, the law technically never existed. Instead, accounts suggest that police generally used old, often unrelated laws to target LGBT people throughout the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.

Masquerade Laws Revived to Target LGBTQ

The state originally intended the law to punish rural farmers, who had taken to dressing like Native Americans to fight off tax collectors. But as scholar William N. Eskridge, Jr. recounts in his encyclopedic book Gaylaw, “by the beginning of the 20 century, gender inappropriateness… was increasingly considered a sickness and public offense.”

Existing laws against costumed dress, even if they didn’t specifically mention cross dressing—collectively referred to as “masquerade laws”—were increasingly pressed into service around the country to punish gender variance.

Laws criminalizing cross-dressing spread like wildfire around the United States in the mid-19th century. New York’s, dating back to 1845, was one of the oldest. It declared it a crime to have your “face painted, discolored, covered, or concealed, or [be] otherwise disguised… [while] in a road or public highway.”

But the long tail of carceral solutions to political/cultural problems often have unexpected repercussions for marginalized folks. I hope that as we figure out ways to deal with these people (and the millions who incited their behavior, from the President on down), we listen to the voices of prison abolitionists, so we don’t end up creating more awfulness down the line.
The New York anti-masquerade law that gets used against trans people all the time (and was brought out to arrest people during Occupy Wall Street), was actually written to be used against anti-government domestic terrorists who dressed in faux-Native American outfits while attacking tax collectors in the mid-1800s.

White supremacist crazies like Jake Angeli are embracing a long history of hiding in the clothes of some of the very people they have killed and displaced.
Back in 2016 Trump famously said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

On Saturday Twitter shut down Trump’s account and arrested Anjeli.