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.”

Brigiding Gigi performing in O-Bar in 2018 (Photo from @iamgigiofficial)

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. 

“Behind the makeup and the glamor is a different person, she’s really someone else. She is someone who’s a separate entity from who you are,” says Filipino drag queen Dee Dee Marie Holliday in an episode of National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ Padayon. “Hindi ito madali. Akala niyo puro glitter, puro makeup, puro kagandahan, puro glamorosa. Kabilang dito ang diskriminasyon. (It’s not easy. They think it is all about the glitters, the makeup, beauty, and glamor. There’s also discrimination).”

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.”

Dee Dee Marie Holliday performing in the NCCA’s Padayon (Photo from @deedeeholliday)

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. 

Nagsho-show kami ngayon online. Andiyan ’yung mga organization ng sister drag queens ko (We’re now doing shows online. There are organizations created by my sister drag queens),” Dee Dee says. “Isa talaga ang mga drag queens sa mga nakapetuhan ng pandemiya na ito (Drag queens are gravely affected by this pandemic).”

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.

Fact U   

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.


Flourish Hour   

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. 


HerStory   

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.


Kweeens Noight   

Every Saturday, 10 p.m.

A night full of performances with the top drag performers in the country.


Spotlight

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.”

Facebook: @spaces.mnl


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/02/01/its-time-we-recognize-drag-queens-as-the-artists-they-are/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=its-time-we-recognize-drag-queens-as-the-artists-they-are)