Exploring new territory

I beg your pardon?


What’s it like to be a kid drag queen? I don’t know, what’s it like to be a kid prostitute? What’s it like to be a kid wife? What’s it like to be a kid factory worker? What’s it like to be a kid in prison?

All pretty bad, I should think. Children are children, and there are a lot of activities that just aren’t right for children – because they’re of no interest, or because they’re too difficult, or because they’re abusive, or all those. I would put being a drag queen firmly on that list, myself.

But the CBC doesn’t look at it that way.

As an art form, drag has always been about breaking down barriers, exploring new territory and daring to do the unexpected. And now, a new type of queen is emerging on the scene: she’s fierce, she’s living in a time of unprecedented access to queer culture and she’s younger than ever before. She’s a drag kid, and she’s a long way from the era of the queens who took part in the Stonewall riots nearly 50 years ago.

She’s younger than ever before, as in, she’s a minor, and it’s deeply weird to see adults enabling this and the CBC cheering it on. Invoking “queer culture” doesn’t make it any less weird.

Stephan, Nemis, Bracken and Jason are very different kids living in very different parts of the world, but they’re united by a deep love of drag.

Fiery Stephan (a.k.a. Laddy Gaga), 9, lives with his British expat family in the south of Spain, where his explosive performances can’t be contained by their villa, so he has started performing at tourist restaurants.

Shy Jason (a.k.a. Suzan Bee Anthony), 11, lives in the U.S. Bible Belt where his chosen family have formed a protective circle around him that has allowed his sassy alter ego to blossom.

Precocious Bracken, 11, lives in Vancouver, where she struggles for acceptance as a “hyper queen” (a female drag performer) and for opportunities to connect in the 19-plus world of drag shows.

Child star Nemis (a.k.a. Queen Lactatia), 9, lives in Montreal, and with the help of his “momager,” he loves pushing boundaries, from selling his merch at a local fetish store to judging a vogue ball in a downtown bar.

So timid and conservative; where are the four year olds? What could be more queer and amazing than a four year old drag queen?

The four children in Drag Kids have never met, but they’re coming together for the first time at Montreal Pride to perform a group number to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and to compete in an all-ages vogue ball.

As they prepare for the big show, each child faces his or her own unique challenges, as well as challenges he or she has in common with the other performers: deep feelings of isolation (most have never met another “drag kid” before) and the struggle of trying to claim a place of one’s own on the fringes of a fringe culture.

What about math class and gym and what’s for lunch? No challenges or struggles there? Or have they all dropped out of school to pursue their drag queen dreams.

11 Responses to “Exploring new territory”