A popular night hangout for members of the LGBTQ+ community at Bonifacio Global City released a statement following online criticisms against its recent drag performances.
Nectar Nightclub said that everyone is “safe and protected” to express their “personal creativity and identity” in the confines of the club. It was in response to observations alleging that its drag performers are dabbling in “partisan politics.”
“Nectar Nightclub would like to thank every brave soul that walks through our doors, knowing you are all safe and protected to express your personal creativity and identity,” the club said in a Facebook post.
“As long as you don’t harm anyone, your voice, opinion, beliefs, art, identity will be fought for by us. That is our promise to you all,” it added.
A Facebook user called out the performances, arguing that they are an unwise move for the club in terms of business.
“I heard that the gay club in BGC had allowed entertainers to dabble in PARTISAN politics in their show on one or two occasions last week. Ooohh no, why did you allow that. Business intersecting with PARTISAN politics is bad. That’s a no brainer,” RV Torres said.
“Why do you think people go to the club almost every day? Uggh People PAY in order to get in and have FUN, and really don’t care about your PARTISAN politics. They don’t pay for that. Political (PARTISAN) entertainment makes people anxious because there is a pressure to conform,” he added.
Others, including a Facebook user who identified herself as one of the club’s “political queens,” did not agree with the critic.
“I am one of the political queens in Nectar and I will just clarify that none of us were paid to do such acts… Artists exist to express the facets of what is really happening,” Ian Jaurigue said.
“And drag exists to bravely break whatever is problematic—whether it’s gender, class or even politics. My drag is meant to break social boundaries and I personally won’t be tired to continuously break it,” she added.
I am one of the political queens in Nectar and I will just clarify that none of us were paid to do such acts.I…
Another Facebook user argued that drag shows are, by nature political, as they aim to challenge “gender and societal norms even when the performance is just ‘fun.'”
“The very fact that a man is in a dress, when homosexuality is still illegal in 70 countries, when LGBTQ+s are still murdered for living our SOGIEs, IS POLITICAL,” Paulo Castro wrote.
He added that Filipinos are not supposed to be boxed into two political beliefs only—the “dilawans” and the “DDS”—and said they are not “paid” to express such opinions or support.
“Kung ang tingin mo sa drag queens ay entertainment lang, PWES IBAHIN MO KAMI. We see and treat not just our drag performers, but each other like family. We have minds, hearts and POLITICAL views of our own. And we allow each other to express them. AND. THAT. IS. BEAUTIFUL,” Castro said.
Drag as political expressions
Drag is a performance art that combines fashion and gender transformation through theatrics, music and dance.
According to social publishing platform Vocal Media, it “has been used as a form of protest for decades,” particularly by late American drag queen and activist Marsha Johnson who had a prominent role in the Stonewall Riots.
The Stonewall Riots is considered the catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
A Louisiana newspaper called drag performance an “activism” in itself.
“Drag continues to shock the establishment, empower the marginalized, and challenge the norm. It’s transgressive and provocative, symbolic and subversive. In the fight for universal LGBT liberation, the role of drag queens and their art shouldn’t be underestimated,” The Advocate said.
Well-known American drag queen RuPaul Charles similarly believes that drag shows are inherently political since it “has a position on identity” of an individual.
“It doesn’t have a political agenda in terms of policies in Washington. But it has a position on identity, which is really the most political you can get. It has politics at its core, because it deals with: how do you see yourself on this planet? That’s highly political, ” he said to The Guardian.