I’m The Big Scary Drag Queen They Warned You About
Drag provides a place where people create a character, first and foremost, and where people can connect with a part of themselves that has been hidden away.
I am a drag queen.
That statement in itself should not be any cause for worry, and yet, to some, my very existence is cause enough for me to be driven out of the public sphere with as much force as possible. Since roughly the middle of last year, the far-right rage machine has turned its eyes to queer entertainment, making drag artists the latest target of the culture war. Discriminatory legislation, online harassment and even threats of physical violence have swept through the collective minds of the queer community, who are now fearing a push back as bigots get louder and angrier.
Obviously this didn’t come out of nowhere — it can be traced back to the homophobic stigma that queer people are a danger to children. That talking point, combined with drag artists aiming to broaden their audiences by creating child-friendly events, is a recipe for disaster at best. Through this, the old discourse about drag queens and trans people is regurgitated, suggesting that by existing, gender non-conforming people are a danger to children.
As a Drag Queen, that is extremely infuriating. Having radio shock jocks and TV reactionaries go on and on about both your livelihood and your lifestyle, making all these claims whilst knowing nothing about the world that you live in is draining.
At its core, the world of drag is just people doing makeup, putting on sparkly costumes and doing a silly little number to a fun song — people may sing live, or tell stupid jokes, or perform in any unique way. But drag performers are aware of the venue they’re in — they’re not going to do a strip tease at a story hour.
Drag is a place where people look to express themselves and create their own spaces in a cisnormative world. It is a place where people create a character, first and foremost, and where people can connect with a part of themselves that has been hidden away. That is what people are afraid of, because one of the most powerful forms of resistance is to be true and joyful.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Rupaul’s Drag Race:
“…drag is a fight, drag is a protest, drag only reveals who you really are…”
In a world which has become so hostile, making ourselves visible through these characters we play has become an incredibly important thing, because love is the most powerful thing we have to counter hate.