On the 27th of May, we had our second online educational event with no other than Lady Rampant! Lady Rampant took the Dutch drag scene by storm whilst studying a masters in International and European Law at the UvA. Now, she's ramping things up in Scotland after winning Best Political Drag Performer at the Glasgow Drag Awards 2020 due to her political performances and activism in Scottish politics. Alongside being a queer artist, Lady Rampant is also a staunch feminist who combines drag and activism to spread a message of diversity and intersectionality in modern feminism.
At Wonda Women, we were interest in exploring drag, as it is a very complex, intersectional art form, with discussions and debates within the community explore ideas of gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity and culture, personality, politics and many more. We asked Lady Rampant to discuss her work and art, and how it interplays with queerness, activism and her position within the feminist movement. Lady Rampant uses her platform the raise the visibility of many different causes and mobilizes her performance as activism, social engagement and cultural critique.
Lady Rampant began with describing her complex journey into drag, via halloween costumes, a law degree, and an erasmus exchange programme in the Netherlands. After this, we had an engaging Q and A (thanks to everyone for the great questions!) and we would like to share the following insights with everybody:
There is a lot of misconception when it comes to drag. There is the preconception that drag consists of men invading women’s spaces, however, to Lady Rampant, drag is a channel of activism. Her voice as Lady Rampant is more visible and more heard and drag has opened doors for her she never expected to. Feminism naturally is a part of the activism. Lady Rampant says drag is like a megaphone over her own voice.
Lady Rampant points out that drag has always been a lead for change and part of human rights activism. In terms of activism, drag queens have always been at the forefront (see for example the Stonewall Riots). Drag performing has always been an art form, but nowadays, due to the fact that drag has become commercial, people pay more attention to it.
During our Q&A, we talked some more about the commercialization of drag and the critique towards RuPaul regarding transphobia. We talked about the damage this does to minorities and the impact it has when the trans community is not included in the mainstream.
Furthermore, we talked about the criticism the drag community has received from feminists in the past. Lady Rampant makes it clear that she does not speak on behalf of women but about her own views on feminism and the critique did not change that. „Drag didn’t close down the barriers of invading women’s spaces but the opposite – it opened up avenues and having a louder voice“. Lady Rampant tries to elevate and increase awareness!
Another criticism that we addressed is that drag is men invading women’s spaces. We discussed this, and how academics argue against this, saying that drag highlights the performative nature of gender itself. Lady Rampant says drag is a channel of activism, and her voice as Lady Rampant is more visible and more heard and thus gives her more power as an activist; she says drag is like a megaphone over her own voice, and as long as you’re using that voice for good causes, it’s powerful.
We also discussed how we can build more bridges between feminism and drag activism. Lady Rampant has some great advice by pointing out how important it is to be aware of the things that are happening around you: Attend educational events, ask questions, check in with your friends, stand up for people in public when something inappropriate happens, use your online space to promote feminism, share articles and elevate other activists, and, most important, be vocal and visible as much as you can.
What can be done within the drag community to make it a more inclusive space? The people who book shows have to make sure to not just book their friends, but to make an active choice in booking more diverse queens. A varied line-up that is not only male cis-gendered is so important. Drag artists and viewers should go and support exactly these shows where you know the line-up is varied. In general, sharing someones work (also online) is helping a lot! Lady Rampant also recommends attending local shows as a non-drag community member. It is live and much more fun than on TV. And the best thing about it: you get to talk to the queens!
Last but not least we asked Lady Rampant for some advice if somebody is thinking about doing drag themselves. Lady Rampant’s advice is very clear: Drag is for everyone and has no gender. It does not matter who you are and what you believe in.
We want to thank Lady Rampant for this wonderful and insightful event. Also, a big Thank-You to all those participating. We will end this editorial with a great and important quote by the queen herself:
“The minute you stop listening to criticism is the minute you stop being an ally”.
Check out Lady Rampant: https://www.instagram.com/ladyrampant/