Drag kings and queens lip sync for their lives in 4th annual Wig Wars
Ashley Aalto, Staff Writer
On October 22, 2016 Black Pirates Pub hosted the 4th annual Wig Wars, a pageant like no other. With 10 local drag performers, including three Lakehead University students, this event is the biggest drag competition in Thunder Bay. All competitors performed in the first two rounds: “Express Yourself” in which competitors performed a song and dance that they felt best introduced their drag personality, and “Dead Divas and Lifeless Legends” where contestants performed songs from famous musicians that have passed on. Winners of those rounds continued on to perform in “Lip Sync for your Life”. Once the winner of the third category was chosen, winners participated in the 4th category, “You Are The Champion” in which winners executed one final performance in celebration of achieving their rightful crown.
Drag competitions are not only a fun way to gender bend, but they also create visibility for the LGBTQ community and celebrate its culture. Nivie Dhami, the Pride Central Coordinator at Lakehead University and a judge for the Wig Wars competition told The Argus that “Drag contests allow allies to come into a queer space, celebrate with queer people, dip into a scene that allows gender bending to happen and challenges people to think about feminine identity or masculine identity for drag kings. It opens up conversation in hetero-normative spaces and is a form of activism in a way because you are reclaiming straight spaces as queer spaces”.
Drag has also shown to be an outlet for self expression and overcoming personal barriers. Samuel, a competitor in Wig Wars, also known as Tharona Shade, shared with us what his relationship with drag is like;
“One night Blake (Onya Boyszdii) and I were dressing in drag to do a photoshoot and the next day I had a revelation; that I was doing drag to battle an anxiety I have towards it. When I started doing drag, I would wake up the next morning and I would be angry, confused, and almost sad because I thought ‘What am I doing? People are going to judge me. Nobody is going to want to be friends with me. This isn’t me’. I was having a huge internal battle with overcoming those anxieties. Now I feel completely comfortable with it! I now do drag for the people who don’t support it. I do it for the people that are going to judge me for it and I embrace it”.
In contrast, Jey, a drag king and a competitor in Wig Wars who performs as Max Speed, said, “It’s interesting to hear drag queens talk about having a hard time getting over that fear, and I feel that as a drag king that’s something that I’ve never had to deal with in society. Women aren’t as policed as men for their gender. I grew up easily being able to fit in as a girl because I was allowed to be a tomboy. I think it took me so long to realize I was trans because no one ever got mad at me for looking like a boy. It was just accepted.”
Although drag is a positive experience for LGBTQ folks and allies alike, Wig Wars has had some suspected negative feedback on campus. “Somebody took all of our (Wig Wars) posters down. I don’t think it was LUSU or security because I stamped them twice with the take down date being well into November” said Blake. It is suspected that the posters were torn down as an act fear or hate towards the drag community.
Wig Wars was packed with wonderful performances and contestants performed their hearts out. The competition was fierce, but after an intense “Lip Sync for your Life,” the Wig War crowns were awarded to Amiah Vajhine (queen) and Seeley Grey (king).
If you are interested in drag culture or have questions you can talk to Nivie at Pride Central or follow LU’s own Onya Boyszdii, Tharona Shade, and Max Speed on Instagram and Facebook. Blake, Samuel, and Jey also encourage everyone to keep your eyes peeled for a drag club at Lakehead that will be coming soon!