Irish drag queen Victoria Secret on the power of drag amid hateful far-right narratives

As part of the #StrongerTogether initiative, drag performer Victoria Secret spoke about her art amid hateful and false far-right narratives.

Drag artist Victoria Secret, who spoke about the far-right in the article, wearing a yellow dress and pink wig.
Image: Babs Daly

As we celebrate Pride Month across this island, we must confront the harsh reality that our community faces; a rising tide of disinformation, scapegoating and hate. It’s time again for us to channel our collective pain and anger into action for social justice. As part of the #StrongerTogether initiative in collaboration with the Rowan Trust and the Hope and Courage Collective, GCN interviewed Irish drag queen Victoria Secret, who spoke about her art amid hateful far-right narratives.

One of the tactics that far-right actors use to push their distorted narrative is framing certain groups as a threat because doing so allows them to justify their violence and hateful rhetoric in the name of protection.

One such group that they target is drag artists. Far-right anti-drag rhetoric is especially prevalent in the US, where several Republican legislatures are passing purposely vague laws in order to restrict the freedom of drag artists to perform. And while here in Ireland the rhetoric against drag performers is not as strong and widespread as it is in the US, we are starting to hear its echoes in the form of protests outside drag storytime events or live performances, with threats and complaints around shows that are not even intended for a young audience.

To have a better understanding of the current situation, we had a chat with Irish drag queen Victoria Secret. Amid the false and negative narratives that far-right groups are trying to spread, she told us about what drag actually is. “Not only does it give me an ability to use my voice and connect with our community, with so many different types of people, it also gives me a chance to create some fun and entertainment,” she said. “And I love that we’re able to gather together to celebrate having some fun.”

Recalling the beginnings of her career as a drag artist, she spoke about a business degree in an art school, where she was surrounded by all types of artists and creative people. “I had come from a strict Catholic school and I met people that were a bit more free, if that makes sense. They didn’t care so much about what people thought. I went, in the space of one year, from being so shy to being kinda loud. And it was definitely because I was inspired by people who were a bit more authentic to themselves.”

Victoria recalled falling in love with drag artists in Dublin and spoke of how her fellow performers influenced her own art. “I think I would be naive in saying that I would have learned as much about my drag without being surrounded by other people who were open to giving me opportunities,” she said. “I’ve developed lifelong friendships through drag, both with customers and with other drag artists.”



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Un post condiviso da Victoria Secret (@victoriasecretdublin)

Speaking about how the rise of the far-right is impacting her, as well as the other drag artists in Ireland, she said: “I can feel my confidence has been shaken in public places, as opposed to our own community. And that’s not something I’ve experienced before. I do find that worrying. I’m worried about not just myself, but everyone”.

“It’s clear that there’s an increase in hate crimes and I think that is the main worry and talking point amongst all of us. We’re all just trying to stay safe more than anything else,” she explained. “I am finding myself planning both getting to and from places a little bit more than I probably would have thought of before, because the streets are a little bit more crazy.”

Victoria also pulled back from certain online spaces, particularly Twitter, where hateful rhetoric against minorities has been on the rise since Elon Musk took over. “It’s not a place that I feel that people who have certain opinions want to learn from other people. So if I can’t have conversations where we’re all able to listen to each other, then what am I gaining except it causing me stress or upset?”

When asked whether she feels that the broader Irish community is supportive of drag performers, she said that they not only feel supported but celebrated. As she explained, the rise of the far right “is currently such a huge talking point with my friends who perform drag in America and amongst their community. But I don’t want people to get the lines blurred here. We’re not living in America, we are living in Ireland.”

“Ireland’s had a love affair with drag for many decades,” she said. “This is not a new thing. There is drag in so many different areas of entertainment, from panto to bar entertainment, both in and out of the queer scene.”

Talking about how we as a community can come together against the far-right, Victoria said: “I think the best thing that everyone can do is use Pride month as the great time that it can be to educate ourselves in every single way that we can, have the important conversations and with the right people. And then, obviously, to get out and use our voice every time that we get to have a chance to vote.”

The drag queen also encouraged the community to gather at marches and protests, saying: “There’s power in seeing numbers on the street, even if it’s just the people feeling that they’re supported, or just the country as a whole seeing that there are so many people out.”

This story originally appeared in GCN’s Pride issue 378, as part of an ongoing feature on solidarity that was created in cooperation with the Rowan Trust and the Hope and Courage Collective. Read the full issue here

Want to be featured in this special campaign? Share a message of solidarity using #StrongerTogether, tagging GCN or email [email protected].


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