Wednesday, August 8, 2018

RE: Decolonize Your Drag Pageant

Dear Capital Pride,

As Ottawa's Pride festival approaches, I implore you to decolonize your drag pageant.

The problem is your invocation of titles. Titles are a tool of colonialism. Settlers gave titles to indigenous people to conscript them into White class and gender ideals. Titles have the colonial baggage of being an empty "gift" colonizers gave the "good Indians". The politics of respectability are the politics of binary gender, feminine disempowerment, classism, and white supremacy.


For trans, two-spirit, and non-binary people, titles are a constant marker of non-belonging. The addition of Mx. is not justice.

Separate is never equal, and drag exists to destroy gender expectations. The three competition categories are antithetical to the aims of Capital Pride and ought to be consolidated into a single 15-person competition.

There is an observable hierarchy in drag; all you have to do is follow the tips. Hyperdrag, masc, trans, and androgynous performers are never given an equal stage with the cis guys who transform themselves into passable women characters. The oppressive notion that the competition reinforces is that drag as impersonation is better than drag as authenticity.

As a non-binary man in club kid masc drag, I didn't see a place for me in your competition. My personal dilemma was having to choose between Mr & Mx. I shan't be forced into strategically choosing a gender expression for the sake a competition. I couldn't possibly make myself fit into one of those 3 neat gender boxes.  (To be honest, I'd also want to be ~4 drinks in.)


Winners are to assume nominal commitments as community ambassadors. Cool...Then why can't that be the award? Gold, silver, and bronze Capital Pride ambassadors.

Let's also talk about the "straight ban". Anyone who wants to do drag competitively is queer enough for me.


Queer is a verb. 
Drag as an artform queers space and time. 
Drag is queer inherently; it is not "owned" by people who call themselves queer.

Drag can't be straight.

The language chosen to weed out the breeders insists on sameness of queer and gender diverse people that does not exist in reality. The idea of singular community is exploited by Pride festivals in Canada's large cities by corporations, charities, and community organizers alike. The homogeneity (giggity) of queer and gender diverse experiences and opinions is insisted upon for profit and political gain.

Your materials need to pluralize communities.

I'm equally disappointed that the language in your title description conflates sex and gender. If Capital Pride cannot produce materials in gender inclusive language, they need to contract out their publications to queer and gender diverse freelancers who do. (Wink!)

I posted a question about how the categories were being administered on the Facebook event, and the comment was never approved for publication. Silencing critical questions is not something to take Pride in.


Thank you in advance for making appropriate changes to your programming.

No comments: