I spoke with the iconic London based drag queen Big Liz (you can find and follow her on Instagram @biglizabeth) who describes herself as ‘A voluptuous queen with hysterical wit, the voice of an angel and very aggressive stretch marks’. I asked her ‘In your own words describe what is at the heart of drag culture today and why is it so important to have drag in the society we are currently living in?’ and her response was ‘If I’m honest being in the drag scene at the moment is quite scary. I’ve been doing drag for nearly two years now, so not long, but I’ve already seen a change in atmosphere. Drag is being used at the moment as a distraction tactic by the conservatives and it’s putting us in the firing line. Their shortcomings in running this country have been exposed in the wake of the pandemic so in an attempt to get re-elected they’ve started a culture war. Throwing the age old homophobic narrative that queer individuals (in this instance drag performers) are predators. It’s horrendous and it can be really scary to just walk to a gig in full face because of this. A friend of mine and fellow drag performer, That Girl, has seen her drag story time protested by the far right, who’ve also created a smear campaign against her full of lies! It’s unacceptable!’ she goes on to say ‘That being said, what is evident in this situation is the sense of community in the LGBTQ+ community! We will rally together and stand up to these awful people because we have to! Now more than ever it’s so important to show the younger generation that you don’t have to put up with arseholes that will deny your existence! Drag is joy! That’s all it had ever been it’s a performance, its makeup, it’s a look, it’s a song, its laughter, it’s tears- it’s whatever you want it to be! Drag is freedom expression which is what the conservatives are terrified of.’ And she finished with ‘Expression of oneself should be encouraged, NEVER suppressed!’. I think this really sums up the highs and lows of drag in the 21st century, drag is joy like Big Liz said but drag culture is being threatened by right wing views that clearly have no idea what they are talking about in their boring suits and plain ties. I remember seeing Big Liz perform at my student union at university back last year and she shows the joy of drag when performing and she ATE UP THAT STAGE and we were all living.
This concludes my article about British drag culture in the 21st century and as we can see its been a journey, we started in Elizabethan England with drag queens being classed as someone who was an actor and played a female roll, we’ve looked at the raid of Mother Clap’s house in the 18th century and the fierce drag kings of the 19th century, with soldiers doing drag shows during World War Two and to now with drag being a global phenomenon and on so many screens across Britain. I wanted to end this series of articles by echoing what Big Liz has said drag is joy, drag is fun it is an escape from reality but can also help us face reality. If you have a problem with drag queens or kings, then please educate yourself cause not being a fan of drag is sooo 17th century. But as pride month is over and pride events are coming to an end remember to spread love and support your local drag artists. Finally, in the wise words of Bimini Bon Boulash ‘you just got have a PMA…a positive mental attitude’.