You Won’t Fool the Children of the Revolution

]

by Steve Desroches

These are spooky times. Times that can make you appreciate all that Provincetown is and, at times, run the risk of taking it for granted. All that Provincetown is, meaning all that is good about it, should not be a foregone conclusion. Provincetown is what it is through the continued work and commitment by residents and visitors alike. That’s true for American democracy, too. And as we celebrate Independence Day, it’s an appropriate time to do so mindfully as we are at a perilous moment in the history of the Republic.

Gottmik

That’s true, too, for the LGBTQ community. The Republican Party and the right wing of this country have renewed attacks on the LGBTQ community, dusting off the Anita Bryant playbook of casting queer people as dangerous and predatory. As we know, such hateful rhetoric can have frightening consequences. It can also inspire any equality movement to regroup and become more powerful in return. During this Pride month the bigoted right wing have turned their attention to drag queens, attacking what is arguably an art form original to the LGBTQ community, and declaring them harmful to society. Republican state parties and Republican legislators present such innocuous things as drag queen story hours as child abuse and drag shows in general as signals of an attack on Christian supremacy. In a way it’s clear why drag would be singled out, as it’s always been political and a challenge to the establishment’s power. That’s why they are so afraid. It’s kind of like in The Wizard of Oz when the Wicked Witch of the West blew into Munchkinland to bully Dorothy out of the ruby slippers. That’s when Glinda the Good Witch of the North whispers in the seemingly helpless girl from Kansas’ ear, “Keep tight inside of them. Their magic must be powerful or she wouldn’t want them so badly.”

Drag is a reminder to never surrender your power.

It’s why drag has long been a part of LGBTQ activism, often acting as modern-day court jesters speaking truth to power and being that supportive voice Glinda was to Dorothy. That’s why it’s fitting the signature event of the Crown and Anchor’s Fourth of July celebration is Drag Revolution, an extravaganza drag revue at Town Hall this Saturday featuring a cavalcade of season-long performers as well as RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Jackie Cox and headliners Violet Chachki and Gottmik.

It’s undeniable that the pop culture phenomenon that is RuPaul’s Drag Race has thrust drag into the mainstream, or at least as close as it’s ever been, resulting in an enormous expansion of fans of drag. In addition, the show features a level of diversity and a discussion of LGBTQ topics that is rare to non-existent on television. But it’s equally as clear that for about a century now Provincetown has been a force itself when it comes to supporting drag and other queer art forms and artists, something the Crown and Anchor has renewed its commitment to under the new ownership of Jonathan Hawkins and Dr. Paolo Martini. So as there’s a push to silence LGBTQ voices Drag Revolution seeks to combat those efforts and utilize Provincetown once again as a staging ground to fight back. As Violet and Gottmik tour the country they see firsthand the importance of representation and the power of drag.

“Actually going around the country and visiting so many gay bars and then seeing how many places in the country where there’s a lack thereof reminds me how important queer spaces are,” says Gottmik from New York City where she and Violet are performing for New York Pride before heading to Provincetown. “I’ll be in San Francisco and the scene is beyond what you can imagine with incredible diversity. But then I’ll visit parts of the country where you’ll rarely find a gay bar and its shocking while you’re there how there are no queer spaces, or nothing that’s reliably there. Queer representation isn’t just important for places like San Francisco, or Ptown, but everywhere.”

Seeing oneself in media is vitally important, and Gottmik sent a thunderbolt of representation in action becoming the first transgender man to compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Calm, cool, and confident, much like her co-star Violet (who both use female pronouns in regards to their drag personas), her appearance on the show was a revolutionary act indeed as it batted away the abstraction of hateful tropes and misinformation and showed a full person who loves themselves and encourage others to do the same. Self-love is the ultimate declaration of independence.

“Drag creates a space for a celebration and a conversation on gender expression,” says Violet. “I’ve been on the road longer than Mik and I’ve seen how much has changed. Audiences that come to our shows are definitely more accepting of a variety of expressions with sexuality and gender for sure. It’s changing all over the country.”

Drag Revolution marks the Provincetown debut for both performers, something they have both been aiming to do for years now. They’ve both heard from many fellow drag performers, be they former Drag Race cast members or not, how special Provincetown is to the art of drag and the LGBTQ community at large. Just because these are serious times doesn’t mean the appropriate response is despair and despondency. Quite the contrary. This is no time to be a shrinking violet, say Violet and Gottmik. Rather it’s high time to be your authentic self and then dress it up in drag…much like the Founding Fathers with their powdered wigs, silk stockings, and kitten heel shoes. Drag Revolution is the perfect occasion to celebrate our rights and commit to “liberty and justice for all” and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” all the while having a blast. It’s time to dig those sparkly heels in.

“When you come to the show you’re going to get good, old-fashioned, in-your-face drag,” says Violet. “It’s really all about fun and celebration and what it means to be proud.”

Drag Revolution featuring headliners Gottmik and Violet Chachki is on Saturday, July 2 at 8 p.m. at Town Hall, 260 Commercial St. Guest stars include Jackie Cox, Varla Jean Merman, Miss Richfield 1981, Thirty Burlington, Qya Cristál, Mackenzie, Elle Emenopé, Liza Lott, Delta Miles, João Santos, and the Goddesses of Illusions. Tickets ($50-$175) are available at the Crown and Anchor box office, 247 Commercial St., and online at onlyatthecrown.com. For more information call 508.487.1430.