In June of 1969, Marsha P. Johnson played a pivotal role in catalyzing the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, standing up and fighting for the rights of the LGBT community alongside her peers. Johnson was a drag queen and her actions solidified drag performers as the guardians of the gay community. Johnson’s act of bravery and rebellion opened the door for us to spit back in the face of oppression and fear, and say, “Fuck you! We are people too!”
Vancouver’s Pride Parade is one of the biggest parades of any kind in Western Canada. According to some, the first parade was in 1978, while some say it didn’t actually take place until 1981. Pride celebrations are a place where the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities and their allies can come together to continue moving toward a world of peace and full acceptance.
Queens, kings, and things have had a role in pride celebrations around the world. Their shows act as a soapbox from which they can rally the communities to speak up for their rights and freedoms. As performers, they have the ability to speak beyond the little boxes that may be imposed upon them by society, making them less subservient and more powerful. It’s difficult to singularly define what drag is, as it is based on both performer and audience interpretation, but one thing drag most certainly does is bring joy and comfort to the hearts of people looking for validation in being who they are.
The drag community in Vancouver is booming. Here at BeatRoute, we thought it would be powerful to hear the voices of the queens, kings, and things from our local scene. Most drag performers aren’t given a public avenue besides social media to have a voice, so we have assembled a group that ranges in generation, gender, style, and experience to help us better understand where Vancouver drag started, what roles it plays in the community, and where it is going.