With drag drawing hearth within the U.S., RuPaul’s DragCon U.Okay. is a household affair

After a three-year pandemic hiatus, RuPaul’s DragCon U.Okay. — one of many world’s largest drag conferences — returned to London this previous weekend. The three-day occasion, which drew roughly 150 drag performers and hundreds of followers of all ages from all over the world, came about because the artwork kind has been embroiled in controversy in the US. 

Whereas drag has attained mainstream reputation throughout the U.S. — due largely to the wildly profitable “RuPaul’s Drag Race” franchise — critics have argued that youngsters shouldn’t be uncovered to it, and lawmakers throughout the U.S. have proposed payments making an attempt to maintain youngsters away. 

However a lot of those that attended RuPaul’s DragCon U.Okay., held at  Exhibition Centre London, maintained that drag, as an entire, typically creates a secure house the place youngsters can take pleasure in over-the-top performances and, in some circumstances, benefit from the freedom to be themselves.

RuPaul, heart, is joined by drag queens throughout the ribbon slicing ceremony for RuPaul’s DragCon U.Okay. in London on Jan. 6, 2023. Wiktor Szymanowicz / Future Publishing by way of Getty Photos

Diggory Alberts, an 11-year-old U.Okay. native, mentioned he lives and breathes “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and prides himself on perfecting his dance abilities so he can excel as his drag persona, Ruby Rose. 

Through the second day of the convention, whereas drag icon RuPaul was deejaying, Diggory confirmed his greatest dance strikes on the stage —  together with death-drops and cartwheels — whereas tons of of onlookers cheered him on. He mentioned the expertise was “superb,” particularly as a result of there have been “a bunch of different younger youngsters who’re right here residing their life and having fun with it.”

Diggory, who attended the convention together with his 25-year-old sister, mentioned he struggles with the concept adults, and notably lawmakers, would need to maintain youngsters away from drag. 

“You might be whoever you need to be,” he mentioned, after criticizing lawmakers who’re making an attempt to stop minors from attending drag occasions.

Woman Camden, a drag performer and a finalist on season 14 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” mentioned she had no retailers to specific herself when she was youthful and would have beloved to have entry to one thing like a DragCon occasion (there have additionally been DragCons in New York and Los Angeles).

Lady Camden
Woman Camden struts the pink carpet at RuPaul’s DragCon U.Okay. 2023.Ellie Rudy

“I want I had let myself be gayer and female once I was a child,” she mentioned. “I want I might return in time and simply let myself play with Barbies and let myself put on pink, discuss nevertheless I need to discuss, love whoever I need to love.”

Many mother and father introduced their youngsters to DragCon U.Okay. not solely as a result of they’re large followers of the franchise, but additionally to reveal their youngsters to a range of artwork and other people early on.

Trish and Maxine
Maxine, 5, strikes a pose along with her mother, Trish, at RuPaul’s DragCon U.Okay. 2023 in London.
Ellie Rudy

“I would like her to have the ability to settle for individuals from all walks and assume in an open-minded means and settle for all diversities actually,” mentioned Trish, a London resident who introduced her 5-year-old daughter, Maxine.

Danielle Gostling, who lives in Kent, England, introduced her daughter Dorothy, 6, to the convention. She mentioned there’s “nothing overtly graphic in any respect” concerning the artwork kind.

“It’s about enjoyable and expression and love and equality, and that’s essential for kids to learn about,” she mentioned. 

Danielle and Dorothy
Danielle Gostling and her daughter, Dorothy, attend RuPaul’s DragCon U.Okay. 2023 in London.Ellie Rudy

Over the previous a number of months there have been a minimum of six payments launched by state lawmakers throughout the U.S. in search of to limit the place and for whom drag might be carried out. These measures are notably geared at stopping minors from attending drag performances.

“That’s simply fallacious,” Dorothy Gostling mentioned of the proposed payments. “You possibly can’t cease drag!”

Drag performer Gemini walks the principle stage on the Children’ Vogue Present throughout RuPaul’s DragCon U.Okay. in London on Jan. 8, 2023.Ellie Rudy

Gemini, an 18-year-old drag performer primarily based in Surrey, England, who has been training the artwork kind since she was 12, mentioned drag is “empowering.” The teenager, who participated in DragCon U.Okay.’s Children Vogue Present on Sunday sporting a pink velour tracksuit, credited drag with serving to her conquer emotional difficulties and boosting her self-worth.

“As a younger homosexual individual in class, you’re fairly often bullied, however for me, doing the drag and stuff helped me by means of that and made me assume, ‘I might be me, and I can strut and be whoever I would like,’” she mentioned. 

Kitty Claus
Drag performer Kitty Scott Claus at RuPaul’s DragCon U.Okay. in London on Jan. 6, 2023. Ellie Rudy

Kitty Scott Claus, a contestant on season three of “RuPaul’s Drag Race U.Okay.,” succinctly summed up the sentiment that seemed to be widespread on the convention. 

“Drag is for everybody, and it’s to be loved by everybody,” she mentioned. “In the event you take pleasure in drag, it shouldn’t matter your age.”

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