It’s 8am on a Monday, I’m on my way to class, scrolling through Instagram. DragCon was this weekend, the biggest convention for gender bending and drag in the world. Queens & fans unite, inspire and share and until they say that I’ll be able to actually attend (and that day will come, speaking it into existence), my easiest way in is through the eyes of others. So Instagram it is, looks on looks on queens, flowers seem to be a trend this year, as is romanticism.
Then, Milk’s profile pops up. I’ll have you know, Milk (@bigandmilky on Instagram) is one of my favourite drag queens ever. More than most queens, she defies gender and goes beyond the binary, looking for that grey zone that actually turns out to be rainbow coloured when you look closer. I see the picture, open the caption (it’s one of those ‘Read More’ ones), I start to cry. Immediately, uncontrollably, seemingly out of nowhere.
A silent tribute
On the picture I see, there’s Milk, hooded, standing in the middle of a small stage. He’s wearing an exaggerated version of a striped shirt that ressembles those worn in concentration camps, pink upside down triangle included, a larger than life token of intolerance and hatred. The caption:
‘big queer hug’
arms long enough to hug everyone.
near and far.
until our right to hug vanishes.
For the whole last hour of RuPaul’s DragCon day two, one of the queerest, most accepting, most loving events in the world, Milk stood, silently hooded. To raise awareness. Because in a place like DragCon, silence speaks louder than words.
It has been over a year since news broke of gay concentration camps in Chechnya and barely anything happened. There are still 74 countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal, of which 11 countries still implement the death penalty as punishment. Gay rights are being contested, taken away, prosecuted in countries all over the world, and while yes, we have it decently good where we live, we should still raise our voice for those who can’t.
Milk urges for a Queer Global Conciousness. For millions of LGBTQ+ people out there, life is not easy, not safe, not even certain. For millions of kids and adults, living their truths is impossible, fear filled and dangerous. That’s what creating a Queer Global Consciousness is about: spreading awareness, protesting, raising our voices. It’s about realising that the fight is not over.
Drag is activism
Activism and drag go hand in hand. Drag, in the current political climate, is always a political act in my opinion. Of course it is fun and it represents freedom, but challenging the heteronormative, the gender binary inherently means making a statement, whether you like it or not. And with iconic queens like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera who paved the road for LGBTQ+ activists around the globe – watch the Netflix documentary on the death and life of Marsha P. Johnson if you have no idea what I am talking about – , drag is without a question an essential part of LGBTQ+ rights history. Milk just reminded me of that.
For a queen to use her platform like that, it’s inspiring to me. It’s bold, and vulnerable, strong and personal. It grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go. For days now, I haven’t been able to get this out of my head. Maybe that’s good. Maybe this shouldn’t get out of my head, maybe I should be having this performance in the back of my head always. Because a Queer Global Consciousness starts with one person, who inspires another, who tells someone else. And maybe this is a good place to start.
The original Instagram post:
‘big queer hug’ arms long enough to hug everyone. near and far. until our right to hug vanishes. – For the last hour on Day 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Con LA 2018, silently hooded I stood. RuPaul’s Drag Con represents a place where LGBTQIA+ individuals and our allies can gather to give hugs, be free, feel joy, and share love; human rights. These rights have been taken away and persecuted by governments in many countries, to the extent of death. – We must create a Queer Global Conciousness. That I, as a queer person, care about queer lives EVERYWHERE. – What do I hope this statement will make? If nothing else, it will have reached one person who then told another person. Two more people now know what is happening. – thank you to everyone who attended Drag Con, was in these photos, and shared this message.