Here’s where you can watch and support them online
As queer culture continues to come out of the closet, drag queens are gaining a newfound appreciation for their craft and, well, their sheer fabulousness. There’s just so much beauty, positivity, and artistry in drag, and it is just a shame to keep them hidden in the dark.
Filipinos’ fascination about drag queens goes beyond international drag shows or any regular makeup transformation videos online. Years before Rupaul’s Drag Race entered our streaming life or Manila Luzon became a queer icon, Filipino drag queens have already been standing on the highest heels, wearing biggest wigs, drawing sharpest eyebrows, and wearing the most glamorous dresses, performing in some of Manila’s colorful bars.
“Drag queens played a big role in the LGBT movement. Today, we don’t just see drag queens as queer people dancing or performing in underground nightclubs,” drag artist Brigiding Gigi tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Drag as a whole has become a phenomenon, Creating art that pushes boundaries. Performing, entertaining, and inspiring people of the modern world.”
Just like in the documentary film Wig, the local drag scene emerged from its laser-lit after hour world. They put their art and stories into the spotlight using different platforms, both physical and virtual, giving everyone a glimpse of what happens on stage, and before they strut in it. While it was all fun and musical, it is not new for these performers to meet judging eyes, even people that think ill of their craft.
“It takes a lot of courage to come out dressed to the nines in broad daylight, to face the harsh world of discrimination, just to express our artistry and who we are,” drag artist Dee Dee Marié Holliday says. “Drag queens are at the forefront of the fight for equality. Those who came before us started the Stonewall Uprising which gave birth to the Pride Marches that the LGBTQIA+ community rightfully celebrate today. We are brave. We are fierce. We are Queens.”
The thing is, just like graffiti, underground music, and city murals, the art of drag is a rebellious kind. It demands attention by pushing the limits of what can be and cannot be that ultimately makes a statement. There’s no mockery, as some may perceive, just embracing your uninhibited avant-garde spirit and embodying it on stage.
“Drag is an intersection of different kinds of visual arts. A drag queen is in charge of her beauty, looks, costume, hair, even performance, concept, music, and lights. It really is a one-man show,” Dee Dee says. “It also includes fashion, theater, and politics. Dressing up like this is political, because drag is political. Being a drag queen means risking your life out there to express who you are.”
Unfortunately, as the pandemic put a stop on the live events industry, it also pushed the off button of the flickering lights of the stage where Filipino drag queens do their performances. But as the saying goes, the show must go on. There is no pandemic that could rain on the parade of these artists as they bring their world no short of feathers, glitters, and diva power online.
“This pandemic also showed how our local drag artists were able to shift into the virtual world, hence, the rise of online live shows, talk shows, vlogs, music and business that doesn’t only involve performing arts but multimedia arts as well,” drag artists Marina Summers muses. “We hope to see more local media bodies to actually help share this beautiful and colorful form of art to more Filipino homes, because the more we talk about it on a larger audience, the more people would understand what drag and the artists are.”
Among those organizations is Spaces MNL, an online destination that offers shows and contents celebrating LGBTQIA+Community. It also offers an avenue for drag queens to continue their work and earn a living, especially during this time of a health crisis.
“It is very important to support local drag queens especially now since they have been jobless for almost a year,” Kiko Dacanay, CEO of Spaces MNL and events head of LoveYourself PH, tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Almost all of them work in bars that are still not allowed to operate.”
Continuing the works they did last year, the events organization, together with LoveYourself Inc. and AHF Philippines, is launching a new set of online shows with Blast Off, filled with laughter, fierce performance, and LGBTQIA education.
Here are the shows you need to watch out for.
Every other Monday, 9 p.m.
The show discusses socio political issues that affect members of the LGBTQIA community. Hosted by Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan, Janlee Dungca, and Peachy Roberts.
LSD (Love, Sex and Drags)
Every Tuesday, 9 p.m.
Love, Sex, and Drags features powerful performances of drag artists MC Black, Mrs Tan, and Eva Le Queen.
Every other Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Hosted by Clea Torres, the show tackles different issues that affect the mental wellness of members of the LGBT community.
Every other Wednesday, 9 p.m.
The show uncovers the stories of prominent and popular drag queens and shares their journey on how they have become one of the performers in the country’s drag scene.
Kinks and Kweeens
Every Friday, 9 p.m.
An open group discussion that discusses personal challenges and struggles of LGBT individuals.
Every Saturday, 10 p.m.
A night full of performances with the top drag performers in the country.
An online drag competition in search for the next drag superstar. This competition is only open to all baby drag queens.
“Each show will have a production number that showcases their talents. We’ll also be launching new episodes of all the shows this February. We’re adding new talented drag queens but we’re also giving spotlight to other LGBTQIA talents that people will see in our new online shows,” Kiko says. “I personally feel that drag queens have been in the forefront of fighting for LGBTQIA rights and now that they are in need of help, it is time for us to actually do something for them.”