NSW drag artists demand councils bring back cancelled shows

Drag King Woody performs at Drag Storytime
Image: Drag King Woody/Instagram

New South Wales activist group Pride in Protest and drag performers have called out local councils for cancelling Drag Storytime events targeted by right-wing groups.

During Pride Month in June, far-right protesters made headlines by targeting numerous drag events, particularly family-friendly Drag Storytimes, across Victoria.

Councils cancelled many over safety concerns. New South Wales performers have also spoken out about local councils in NSW “quietly dropping” Pride Month celebrations.

In an open letter, drag king Woody and Pride in Protest urged councillors to stand firm against “queerphobic harassment” and bring back the shows.

The open letter said each cancellation “cuts performers off from a vital source of income”.

“Management of councils is forcing our community back into the closet at the request of the far right,” the letter reads.

“Queer events in NSW can still be hosted safely… The community will turn out in support when given the chance.

“Our community should be celebrated, not silenced. Pride events should be something we can experience all year round.

“Just like all other professions, with any cancellation of a drag show, that is a cut to the performer’s livelihood, their rent, and their bills.”

‘There was tangible joy in the air’

Last month, drag performers Woody and Cassandra The Queen hosted a Drag Story Time event in Marrickville.

Pride in Protest organised the event at Addison Road Community Centre, coinciding with local Sunday markets.

“The storytime was an afternoon filled with fun and smiles from kids, parents, performers and organisers,” Woody recalled.

“There was tangible joy in the air. That’s what I think we should be highlighting and promoting.”

Drag king Woody’s persona is based on the Toy Story Disney character. He said while drag is “not a reliable source of income” for him, its impact is meaningful.

“I do drag because of the connection to audiences, community and to myself. I do drag for memorable moments,” Woody said.

“A 10-year-old kid telling me about a screenplay they were writing after I read a handmade book that I wrote as an 8-year-old.

“Kids excitedly told me about the jazz class they went to that morning. Us dancing to ABBA together.

“It’s a joy that leaves a lasting impact, and also encourages everyone to be their most authentic selves.”


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Reinstate Drag Storytime events in NSW

Drag king Woody as well as others have signed the open letter calling for more Drag Storytime events across NSW.

“We, drag performers and the queer community, call upon councils to re-commit themselves to the queer community and stand up for drag performers in the face of vile right-wing attacks,” the letter reads.

The letter also urges councils to commit to paying performers even if the shows are cancelled.

Pride in Protest organiser Joel Fitzgibbons said hate groups’ intimidation efforts have shut down drag events across NSW.

But their Marrickville event was “a big hit with the locals”.

“We hope that this little gathering inspires Marrickville Council and [others] to hold family-friendly drag events like this of their own volition,” Joel said.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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