In an age defined by identity politics, the debate on child drag queens are some of the most contentious. For critics, the subculture represents the disgrace of youth and everything that they consider “normal”. To others, it’s merely kids just playing dress up.
Young Queens Finding their Feet in Drag
The child in the centre of all of this political and cultural debate, is a 10 year old called Nesmis Quinn Mélançon-Golden, who is most commonly known as Queen Lactacia and is one of the most prominent child drag stars in Canada.
At the time of his first show, Nemis was eight years old and had been experimenting with song and dance as well as dressing up in women’s clothes for several years. For both his mother and himself, performing just felt like a natural progression.
“There’s a video somewhere of me lip-syncing to Ariana Grande in a pink tutu when I was six,” says Nemis. “Drag isn’t a thing you imagine a child to do, but we don’t care what people say.” His mother Jess, describes Nemis as the most confident, unapologetic person she’s ever met. And it’s hard to argue with her. It’s difficult to imagine him ever becoming bothered by his peers comments for his performance choices.
Lewis Bailey is a 14 year old gay lad from the West Midlands who wanted to perform drag in his school talent show. But he was distraught when he was told by his teachers that the act that he had worked really hard on, was not permitted for the show. Their reasoning was that it is illegal for under 18s to take part in drag act competitions. The principal said the school “stands by our belief that it is not appropriate for young people to perform drag acts”.
Despite the fact there was no swearing, raunchy behaviour and nothing too ‘over the top’ the school stood by their decision saying “We respect the long tradition of female impersonation in theatre, however to appear as a drag queen goes beyond this”.
Lewis wanted to do drag after watching the famous show “RuPaul’s Drag Race“. His mother said that after watching the show it had massively improved his confidence and self-esteem. He was later invited to perform at Drag World in London.
So while child acts are accepted by some, others argue that drag shows are in essence ‘adult-themed arenas with sexual references and adult humour’ and is a form of entertainment that should not be subjected onto a child.
But then on the side of the debate where child drag is accepted, as long as it is under the right supervision and in a controlled environment, such as DragWorld, then what is the real harm?