Happy queer Christmas! Drag kings and queens’ festive spectaculars | Theatre

Drag king Mark Anthony loves Christmas. He all the time has – it’s an enormous factor in his household. Nonetheless, he says he discovered his Christmas “blighted barely” in recent times since popping out as transgender and non-binary. “It wasn’t an enormous sob story of rejection,” Anthony, whose household absolutely accepts him for who he’s, explains. “It was a discomfort sort factor, from either side, the place you’re making an attempt to work out the way you match into a distinct function. By this level, we’re just about adjusted now.” (Out of drag, Anthony, carried out by Isaac Williams, makes use of the pronouns they and them.)

Anthony is aware of how Christmas “might need fairly adverse associations” for these LGBTQ+ individuals “who don’t really feel they are often authentically themselves at dwelling with their households”. It’s a time that “places a highlight on something that’s modified and makes it really feel actually form of awkward”, for instance, if somebody has come out about their sexuality or gender identification.

‘A space where people can lose themselves in their queerness and Christmas at the same time’ … Mark Anthony.
‘An area the place individuals can lose themselves of their queerness and Christmas on the identical time’ … Mark Anthony. {Photograph}: Jody Whittle-Wyeth

It’s the necessity to present these LGBTQ+ individuals with a way of group throughout the festive season that Anthony is hoping to harness as he stars within the festive present The Grotteaux at Woolwich Works, south London. Anthony is promising a “actually huge glitzy, glamorous, most likely fairly foolish camp Christmas present”, with a forged of all-LGBTQ+ performers, combining drag, cabaret, circus, burlesque, comedy and different artwork types. “We need to create an area the place individuals can lose themselves of their queerness and Christmas on the identical time, and for these issues to really feel enjoyable and celebratory collectively,” he says.

The Grotteaux can be hosted by drag queen Lilly SnatchDragon, and function performers together with Leah Kirby (who performs as drag artist Cyro), drag king Len Blanco, burlesque performer Cleopantha, and others. It can incorporate the experiences of those that didn’t develop up celebrating Christmas, together with SnatchDragon, who’s from a Buddhist background and moved to the UK from Bangkok some years in the past.

“Whenever you don’t have your loved ones as a result of they reside overseas, it’s very a lot a time the place you are feeling alone, particularly as a queer Asian particular person,” she says. “It’s very nice to have a present that has Asian illustration, however that additionally focuses on the vacations. There are going to be so many alternative views of what Christmas is to all of us.”

The Grotteaux isn’t the one present getting down to deliver festive cheer to the LGBTQ+ group – and everybody else – this yr. In London, drag king collective Pecs will carry out a one-night-only Christmas present, known as The Pecsmas Office Party, at Shoreditch city corridor in London. In Birmingham, comic Joe Lycett is internet hosting a “big queer Christmas house party”, a 90-minute set in his dwelling metropolis, broadcast on Channel 4. In Manchester, drag queens Donna Trump and Narcissa Nightshade will host a two-night festive cabaret, titled A Queeriosity Family Christmas. Additionally within the metropolis, The Black Pride Manchester Vogue Ball is an evening of drag, cabaret and music hosted by Rikki Beadle-Blair.

On the Pleasance Islington in north London, this yr’s Christmas efficiency, Dog Show, stars drag queen Ginger Johnson, who describes it as “anarchic cabaret” that “exists in a world the place queer persons are represented by canine and everyone else walks round on hind legs, like they personal the place”. It can embrace burlesque, comedy and drag, and function an authentic rating of music by David Cumming, who co-created it with Johnson, impressed by the Nineteen Nineties membership scene.

Dog Show stars Mahatma Khandi, Ginger Johnson, Rudy Jeevanjee and Azara.
Canine Present stars Mahatma Khandi, Ginger Johnson, Rudy Jeevanjee and Azara. {Photograph}: Ali Wright

“LGBTQ+ individuals have all the time been a part of Christmas leisure,” says Johnson. “We’re central to the leisure trade. However, for some motive, our queerness appears to be swept underneath the carpet a bit at Christmas, like we needs to be focusing extra on household and that possibly it’s not acceptable to lean into our queerness. I consider the alternative. If it’s a time for celebration, then we needs to be celebrating our complete selves, and the people who encompass us.”

Anthony explains how he hopes the various experiences of The Grotteaux’s forged “mission to somebody within the viewers who may really feel the identical manner, and deliver some pleasure to them by seeing somebody like them mirrored again”. SnatchDragon, in the meantime, has a few phrases of knowledge for any LGBTQ+ one who could also be struggling right now of yr. “We’re right here, you’re not by yourself. We need to simply give as a lot love and positivity as doable. We see you, we hope you see us and …” she pauses as Anthony, who interrupts within the background, provides: “Come and have an enormous, queer Christmas occasion with us!”

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