Ireland’s drag queens are more “fearful” than they have been in years amid a surge of hostility towards them.
Drag has been an integral part of LGBT culture for generations and in recent years has reached new levels of popularity thanks to the US TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Despite this, there is opposition to drag as well; Drag Queen story hours - when performers read to school children in drag - have become part of the so-called ‘culture wars’ in Britain and America and sometimes attract angry protests.
Opponents insist drag is an inappropriate for children and others denounce the entire genre as rooted in sexist stereotypes.
Ireland is not immune to such sentiments and Irish drag queens say they feel increasingly unsafe.
“I don’t think I have felt as much fear in the community as I have lately,” drag queen Enda McGrattan told Moncrieff.
“I’ve heard about more attacks and they’re getting closer to home and I’m just witnessing a different vibe on the streets compared to a few years ago.
“[Then] I might have felt more comfortable traipsing through the city in drag to get from gig to gig; these days I really don’t do that.”
Enda says there are still “a lot of brave young girls” who walk around Dublin in full drag “because they have to”.
“On Thursday of last week, a friend of mine was homophobically attacked on Grafton Street and ended up in hospital with a broken cheekbone and dislocated jaw,” he said.
“Things like that just seem to be happening more and more at the moment.”
The transgender debate
In America, numerous states are moving to restrict the right of trans people to access gender affirming medical care and the British Government recently vetoed an attempt by the Scottish Parliament to simplify how trans people change their legal sex.
Like drag queens, transgender people refuse to conform to society’s traditional expectations of gender and Edna believes much of the hostility towards drag queens can be linked towards the increasingly polarised debate about trans rights.
“There’s a lot of controversy being created around drag and trans,” Edna said.
“I think in many ways just as a smokescreen to distract people that they might be more concerned about if they weren’t busy arguing about bathrooms for drag queens or children at drag shows.”
Main image: Drag queens. Picture by: Alamy.com