Photos by Patricia Laudencia and JV Rabano
The call to arms for this year’s Metro Manila Pride, as you may have heard, is #ResistTogether. It’s a sharp departure from previous, more benign slogans like #HereTogether and #RiseupTogether. In 2019, the stakes are simply too high for us to look the other way. Earlier this month, Duterte mused that homosexuality was a disease that could be cured. A few days before commencing these interviews, the SOGIE Equality Bill failed to win over the Senate, making this the third time our politicians have failed to place legal protections on LGBTQ+ citizens.
At the front lines of the ongoing fight for equality, you’ll find a number of fierce, flawless drag queens. 50 years ago this month, a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a prominent gay bar in New York City, provoked its queer customers to resist with force. Many of the key players in what would eventually be mythologized as the beginning of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement were drag queens, and their legacy as outspoken members of the community continues to live on.
Drag queens are queer artists making explicitly queer art, and their brazen celebration of identity seems to grant us the permission to express ourselves with similar abandon.
In present-day Manila, these gender-bending performers make a living at queer-friendly bars, doing anything from high-energy lip syncs to stand-up comedy. It is tempting, in this climate, to cast drag, the winking performance of exaggerated femininity, as the radical antithesis of our president’s reckless charade of masculinity. This, too, is what makes watching these queens so liberating. Drag queens are queer artists making explicitly queer art, and their brazen celebration of identity seems to grant us the permission to express ourselves with similar abandon.
In celebration of this historic Pride month, we spoke to three queens working in Manila, getting their thoughts on Stonewall, #ResistTogether, and of course, the wonderful art of drag.