Happy Pride Month! In view of increasing attacks on drag artists and queer people in the UK and the US, I’m not sure there’s been a more pertinent time in recent years to be publicly proud and loud.
Drag artists are so often the first line of defence during tumultuous times, so this month I spoke to one of them, That Girl, about the current drag culture wars, Pride, and more…
JR: What does pride mean to you?
TG: On a personal level, Pride means being your most authentic self and being able to surround yourself with the people who help facilitate that. I’m very fortunate in that I have incredible friends I trust with myself, both in and out of drag. They’re supportive, and back me on everything whether it’s new shows or residencies or my book (Boy Queen). It’s all there and it’s wonderful.
JR: Why do you do drag?
TG: I started drag while studying for my MA in musical theatre and fell head over heels in love with it (almost literally at many points!) It’s a level of joy that I’d never really experienced before during performing. It feels like an extension of myself but is also the most me that I ever am. That Girl is a great outlet for me. I don’t know what I’d do without her.
JR: Recently you’ve been on the receiving end of some particularly unpleasant targeted protests. How did it all come about and how you’ve been coping?
TG: It sort of came out of nowhere. We’d been doing Storytime at The Honor Oak since July 2022 without any issues and suddenly they [protesters] stumbled upon a video of Copper Topp performing at a drag brunch in Feb 2022. She is wearing a leotard, a skirt, her hip pads and about five pairs of tights. She pulls up her skirt and drops into a split. There is a little girl with her mother in the background of the video, which is what has sparked such backlash. They claimed that this is what we are doing at drag story time, which couldn’t be further from the truth. But this is the narrative they pushed to begin with, and some of their supporters still push despite the facts.
If I’m totally honest, the only reason I’ve been able to cope has been because of the amazing support of the community in southeast London and the community of people I surround myself with. Without them I probably would have caved already, just gone and hidden somewhere, but they give me the strength to keep fighting this. We all know it isn’t really about Storytime and it isn’t about children — it’s blatant homophobia masquerading as concern and we can’t stand for it.
JR: If you were hosting a dream drag dinner party, which 5 artists dead or alive would you invite?
TG: Trixie Mattel, Lily Savage, Willam, Landon Cider, Sasha Colby.
JR: What makes you proud to be a drag artist right now?
TG: Seeing so much of the community rallying around these protests either in person or online. It’s been really heartwarming and lovely to know that there are people out there that have my back on this. I don’t think I could do it without them.
Date: Sat 24th June
Address: The Bridge House Theatre, London, SE20 8RZ
Nearest Tube: Penge West/ Penge East