Drag performers go mainstream outside of LGBTQ community, pride season

November 15, 2021
Drag performers go mainstream outside of LGBTQ community, pride season

From the club scene to the big screen, drag performers are dancing and lip-syncing their way into mainstream pop culture.

The performative art is difficult to ignore as television shows like Canada’s Drag Race are growing in popularity around the world. The reality TV series is currently airing its second season, with a third on the way. 

Mark Suknanan, whose drag name is Priyanka, first got into drag in July 2017, and never looked back. Priyanka went on to win the very first season of Canada’s Drag Race, and became the first-ever drag queen to perform on Parliament Hill in 2020. 

“When I first started drag, I was doing it just for my community and then the bachelorette parties started to [pile] up.”

Priyanka said she’s happy to see that drag is gaining momentum, and finding its place outside of Pride season and the LGBT community. 

“I feel like we are living in the future of drag. What I thought was going to happen, is happening,” said Priyanka.

Originally from Whitby, Ont., Priyanka is topping music charts with her debut EP, Taste Test, going on a cross-country tour and hosting the Canadian Country Music Awards later this month. It’s all what she says, can be dreamed of and brought to life as a drag performer. 

“I would say that it means the world to me, but it also means a lot to the world,” Priyanka said. 

Drag queen story hour

As a parent of a child in the LGBT community, as well as an elementary school teacher, Lara Guenette understands the importance of fostering an inclusive environment. She says no one preaches or embraces inclusivity like drag shows or performers.

“It’s all about self-affirmation and not restricting yourself and believing in yourself and finding a way to feel pride and joy,” she said. “And really giving yourself permission to be unabashedly and authentically yourself.”

Guenette brought the idea of a drag queen story hour to her daughter’s elementary school in Wakefield, Que., after being inspired by various performers and their messages.

Lara Guenette brought the idea of a drag queen story hour to her daughter’s elementary school as a fun and interactive way to read to students, which also promotes inclusivity. (Submitted by Lara Guenette)

“The whole school was buzzing when we got there,” she said. 

Last week, several drag queens read stories to the students and had encouraging conversations about embracing oneself. Guenette said that message is something educators constantly try to teach students. 

“I think when we make space for difference and we really make space for diversity and acceptance of all … then we can only really make our world a better place.”

Guenette said she hopes other schools embrace similar ideas and bring performative art, like drag, into their classrooms. 

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