The art of drag is rightly considered the greatest form of escapism for both the audience and performer. And in an era of increasing hardship, the magic of drag performance is arguably more necessary and appreciated than ever before. Like the rest of us, drag queens across the UK have been forced to adapt to a new reality: carving out inventive ways to entertain audiences and showcase their art remotely. But marking Pride Month in the midst of a pandemic – with Pride celebrations being cancelled up and down the country – has presented us with a whole new set of challenges. Thankfully, LGBTQ creatives are proving the spirit of Pride Month goes well beyond the parades, bars, and nightclubs. Here, eight talented queens tell me what Pride Month means to them, how they're putting their sickening skillset to good use, and celebrating Pride in the times of coronavirus.
For me, Pride isn't just parties and parades, but a demonstration of LGBTQ+ identity. In the current climate, it is imperative we celebrate Pride Month and honour queer POC by continuing to educate ourselves and allies about ways we can combat prejudice — especially within our own community.
Throughout Pride Month in lockdown, I've learned to get creative, and encourage others to do the same. I've taken part in a lot of online shows, which have provided an opportunity to try out things I perhaps wouldn't in regular gigs, such as pre-recorded performances. I’ve also had the chance to meet so many amazing performers and artists on social media, including Tiana Biscuit, Pierre, Sophia Stardust, and Asia Thorne.
Pride is all about connecting with others and celebrating our achievements. During lockdown, this connection is more important than ever before, as many in the community might feel isolated or out of sync.
Throughout Pride Month, I’ve spent time reading more about the history of our LGBT+ movement. I’ve used this time to have conversations with different people to increase my understanding of all that has been before today, and prepare for all that can be done tomorrow. For Pride day here in Norwich, I’ll also be encouraging people to dress up and share their day online.
To me, Pride is a symbol of the queer and oppressed revolutionising the way in which we're perceived. It is much more than just commercialism, and with parades and club nights off-limits, we have an opportunity to focus on the true origins of Pride: the Stonewall riots.
I’m celebrating Pride Month by treating myself to the headspace and relaxation I deserve. Time spent during lockdown has also been immensely valuable to my craft, too. I’ve been styling wigs, designing looks, making new numbers, and creating video content.
I've also spent Pride Month unashamedly celebrating queer POC examples of excellence: activists such as Travis Alabanza and Munroe Bergdorf; leaders of ball culture such as the wonder woman Leiomy Maldonado; queens such as The Vixen, Shea Couleé and Bob the Drag Queen. There’s such a beautiful wealth of Black queer excellence out there — go enjoy it!
Alexis Saint Pete
Pride can be an incredibly inspiring and uplifting time, and is sure to be a perfect remedy for those lockdown blues.
My drag has adapted to the current situation, and I've managed to deliver the looks I've become known for. I dug deep into my wardrobe to make use of all the colour and sparkle to brighten up my living room. I've also been part of some amazing virtual projects, including the East London-based Slav 4 U party, all of which aim to put the spirit of our community and its strength on display. Resilience is in our blood.
This Pride Month, I have stayed connected with members of the community who are special to me. My chosen family mean the world to me, especially during these difficult times. But I've also kept a close eye on Jacqui Devon, the co-founder of the Not a Phase organisation. Her campaign aims to support the trans community in the UK, helps to grow trans-owned businesses, and educates future allies. I really recommend checking out her work.
It’s important to celebrate Pride despite the lockdown because the attitudes that breed hate and hopelessness are still out there, even if we're currently not. Pride — especially in the digital age — is even more accessible now than it ever was, and offers a shining beacon into the hands of those who might need it the most. I myself have spent lockdown pre-recording several numbers, usually with just my top half dragged up at home — which, because I can be a bit of a lazy cow, suits me just fine.
During lockdown, I've also enjoyed a variety of brilliant LGBTQ+ social media personalities. A couple of my favourites include the extremely creative Charity Kase and Lawrence Chaney, who recently dropped an epic music series.
It’s important to celebrate Pride Month because no matter the circumstances, we must honour the people who used their voices to uplift this amazing community. I encourage everyone to get those flags out, get dressed up, and remember that although we're in lockdown, we can be proud of who we are anywhere.
As a live performer, it's taken some time to adapt to not being able to share space with people and feel the energy from the crowd. I’m lucky enough to know some amazing drag performers online, and staying virtually connected throughout lockdown has definitely helped a lot. I'm also excited to be taking part in Gloria’s Digital Pride Festival, which aims to showcase the artistry, unity, and diversity of our LGBTQ+ community.
For me, it is very important to celebrate Pride Month despite lockdown. We have no parades and we can't show the world how colourful we are, but we must show that we're still here and want to be seen. Since the first day of lockdown, I've kept myself busy with digital performances and had time to create more drag looks than ever before.
But I've also used Pride Month as a time to learn and educate myself, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter protests. My fave new queens include Black trans artists and activists Oliver Charles Christian, Micah Holmes, Alexis Meshida, and Kiki Snatch.
Polka Dot Drag Queen
I feel it's very important to celebrate Pride during lockdown because our community still very much exists, and now, more than ever, we need to be visible. Many vulnerable LGBTQ+ people are home alone, sometimes with homophobic family members, without access to all the safe spaces where they feel totally accepted.
I also believe the art of drag bonds with a responsibility of educating others and being an activist. So, this Pride Month, I've been working on projects at home with my drag sisters which aim to spread a message of solidarity. However, adapting to lockdown as a drag performer has been a challenge. But I have managed to keep myself busy with a string of spectacular virtual gigs.