How to break the prejudices against performing drag!

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Recently, I was scrolling through Facebook only to find a picture of a drag queen with the words – “Will you date a guy who does drag?” and it had a caption from a gay guy saying, “Sure, if he doesn’t harm me!”

I was shocked and furious. I have been performing as Maya over the past two years. That’s a great achievement considering that I live in a country where doing anything out of the box isn’t right. I have been fighting the good fight. It is a fight to be a feminist, an individual and above of all, a human being.

What will I do to a gay guy who wants to date me? Will I hurt him with my nails or heels? Drag is an art form that has been used to portray or exaggerate the opposite sex’s mannerisms. It has been used in Indian art forms in the past. Perhaps, as time passed, the importance of drag died and people assumed drag doesn’t exist anymore. That’s why drag queens are always put down and asked to keep the art form in the closet. Over the past two years, I have tried to reason it out with many gay men that drag isn’t harmful. But, it only fell on deaf ears. So I finally decided to incorporate it  in one of my performances.

‘Cheap Thrills’ by Sia has always been one of those songs that I thought could perfectly reflect Maya and her ideologies. Previously, I had changed the lyrics to match all that Maya stood for. It didn’t work very well back then. But with this context, I was able to change the lyrics to match the situation. This time, this was my version of the lyrics:

 

“Come on, come on, turn the radio on
It’s Friday night and it won’t be long
Gotta do my hair, put my make-up on
It’s Friday night and it won’t be long ’til
I Hit the dancefloor
Hit the dancefloor
I got all I need
No I ain’t that manly
I ain’t that manly
But I am a fierce drag queenBaby I don’t need your hatred to have fun tonight
(I love drag queens!)
Baby I don’t need your hatred to have fun tonight
(I love drag queens!)
I don’t need no hatred
As long as I can feel the love
I don’t need no hatred
As long as I keep dancing”

 

I sang my version of this song to my friends to get their feedback and everybody loved it because it was smart and it conveyed my message to all gay men. I started preparing for my performance at the Pride Launch by Queer Art Movement of India on October 1, 2016. I couldn’t just sing one song. So, I prepared two more other songs; Vogue and Formation.

 

Now, I had to create a theme around the songs that I was to perform. The song Vogue stood for being yourself, Cheap Thrills/Drag Queens was meant for not spreading hate and loving others and Formation was meant for feminism. This was my theme and story and I delivered the performance perfectly well. The message was recieved very well by the LGBT community.This was possible because of all my friends who stood by me as my pillars.

I love performing drag for this very reason. This art form in itself has so many similarities with the oppression faced by women. That’s also the reason why I chose to make Maya and my drag performance to be be about individualism, feminism and gender equality. Issues in society and atrocities shouldn’t be left alone. It’s very important that we voice it or we will remain voiceless. It’s important to stand up for yourself at least. Otherwise, we will disappear into the crowd. I am here to stay. I am going to perform as a drag queen, a drag queen of love, rainbows and stories.

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Author Profile:
Alex Mathew works as a communications officer in a NGO. He is also a performer, famously known as Maya The Drag Queen. He focuses on bringing about issues related to individualism, feminism and gender equality under the spotlight. Apart from that, he loves to entertain people in his spare time.

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