By Tanatswa Gumbo
While the fight for LGBTI rights and equality is still ongoing in Zimbabwe, a recent form of expression has been brought into the limelight, the art of “drag”.
Drag is a gender-bending art form in which a person dresses in clothing and makeup meant to exaggerate a specific gender identity, usually of the opposite sex. While drag’s main purpose has been for drag performance and entertainment, it is also used as self-expression and a celebration of LGBTI pride.
‘Bigyonce’ (born ‘Tammy’ from Plumtree in Zimbabwe) is not your average drag queen, she is a transgender Jacaranda award winning queen and a shining beacon to the LGBTI community. Her brightness and humor is apparent in borrowing the name of one of the most renowned music icons, Beyoncé. Bigyonce’s life story is a living testimony of the strife encountered by LGBTI people in their existence.
“Homophobia, I face it all the time, especially in bars and other public spaces”. Bigyonce explains in an interview with GALZ.
In the modern age, drag queens have risen from obscure gay-bar performers to celebrities with an ever-expanding social media reach. As entertainers who straddle the gender divide and are known for their irreverent outspokenness, time had never been more befitting to talk about drag queens.
Bigyonce has always had a passion for dragging from a tender age as she discovered herself through performances in primary school.
“I went to a primary school where at the end of the year we would do a lip-syncing competition, one of my teachers would be my makeup artist because I used to perform female songs like Mariah Carey’s”, she articulates.
Her distinguished style in performance has always been a dazzling show and has won hearts throughout high school as she scooped first prizes for two years in pageant shows.
“In high school, I did a fashion show in lip-syncing contests and won first prize for two years” Bigyonce proclaims.
‘Dragging’ has a taken a centre stage in the media. With the artform being amongst one of the most practised form of social and political activism around the world. Noteworthy are some major movements such as Jacaranda, Drag Con, The Art of Resistance and RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“It’s a celebration of life through difference and diversity, and it’s about planting that flag in the ground and claiming our place in this world” (Fenton Bailey, Dragon Co-founder). Bigyonce, in particular feels carefree every time she takes on the stage.
“I feel whole when I drag, that feeling is so comfortable”, she explains.
The parting wisdom from Bigyonce is encouragement for all people living in marginalised communities to brace their identity and not change in the face of resentment.
“Be yourself and fight for who you are, respect other people then you will earn respect.”