"We're all born naked and the rest is drag."
- RuPaul Charles
My love for drag.
After being introduced to RuPaul's Drag Race a few couple years ago, I developed a deep fascination and love for drag culture. It’s a subculture that facilitates complete acceptance and full artistic freedom of self expression. Behind all the wigs, dresses, and makeup - drag queens are moving and creating cultural change. While celebrities like the Kardashians are getting credit for beauty contouring, or Madonna for voguing, and most recently Cardi B for "Okurr," it all started in the drag scene. My infatuation for drag queens had me curious about the drag culture in Richmond, which led to a passion project on the local queens - photoshoot and subculture video.
In drag culture, the term ‘realness’ means having the ability to embody the truest version of something or someone. It’s often used to describe a category or genre, where queens present themselves in a certain appearance or ‘look’ according to the given category (Ex: She is serving business executive realness with her suit and brief case). Richmond Realness is photoshoot of local Richmond Drag Queens in popular Richmond location where they are typically not seen.
@ Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
@ Quirk Hotel
@ The Byrd Theatre
Richmond Realness: Subculture video
Along with attending as many drag shows as I could in one week, I had the pleasure of interviewing queens while they were getting into drag at home.
Through this experience I learned that the drag community in Richmond is like a family to these queens. Through this community they were able to find the sense of belonging and support.
For people who are gender fluid, they often feel a constrained but drag releases those barriers. Out of drag Shanita is comfortable with the male pronoun because drag gives her more fluidity.
Drag empowers these queens to be their most authentic selves. This power has helped them work through personal issues like depression and hoarding.
This experience has made me fall even deeper in love with the art form of drag and the community surrounding it.