Hello my lovely people.
It's always a pleasure to share with you the stories that inspired you and the World. This time we are going to talk about Drag. While a lot of you may have heard of drag and drag queens as performance arts, many of you may not yet be familiar with drag kings.
I am proudly part of a family called the House of Løst Bois, the first house of Drag KINGS in the Netherlands based in Amsterdam. With our lovely Mother Taka Taka and Father Julius. Everybody has a reason to do drag. In fact, my passion for drag has been there the whole of my life, but I just did not give it a name. When I was little, I already liked dressing up like a boy and play 'boys games', fishing in the Ninga river, go birds hunting or climbing trees. I am so grateful that my parents understood me and did the best to allow me who I wanted to be.
Why am I Eric TheDragKing? When I was 5 I was crying a lot telling my mother "I don't want to be a girl!" One day my mum was tired of my cries and she said "OK, you are now a boy and your name is Eric". From that day on I was so happy for people to call me Eric instead Eliane, allowing me to be myself as a kid.
Then, at high school I joined a theater group of drummers and dancers which is traditionally performed by men in Burundi. I was the only girl in the group. So, one day when we were on the stage performing, the MC publicly announced that between the boys performing there was also a girl between them! And I was dressed up, had a great haircut and dancing so well that the audience was not able to spot me amongst the boys! For me what really mattered was to be myself and show that a girl is as talented as a man if they are given a chance!
So, now I am Eric TheDragKing, the king who lives with HIV. As I have experienced and seen many times what stigma does, I dance HIV and AIDS stigma away to inspire and empower whoever is living with HIV and not open about it. Living healthy and embrace who we are is much stronger than the tiny virus. To perform drag is another powerful way for me to fight stigma and discrimination, and bring change to people and communities.
This month I was part of an event called Becoming: Drag, organized at Likeminds in collaboration with the House of Hopelezz and the House of Løst Bois. If you suffer from queerphobia, this was not right place to be. The queer world is where everyone feels at home. We felt a big sense of community connecting to the audience via our performances. It was a very inspiring evening where the audience was also part of the performance, dressed up in glitter, colourful hair and beautiful dresses. It was all fabulous! Please have a look at the pictures made by Kiriacademy.
I loved the talk show between our Mother Taka Taka, Father Julius and Mother Jennifer Hopelezz about drag values and how drag can be used as activism in many ways, for example as a form of protest or for prevention, for example on PrEP. Hence the word Dragtivism!
Yes, Eric TheDragKing is a Dragtivist! To dance HIV and AIDS stigma away as a drag king is another powerful way to communicate with people facing HIV stigma and discrimination. I know in many communities we have people living with HIV going through a lot and still trying to deal with this alone, so if I am able to reach an even a wider community, through my drag art, this would be a great result toward reaching a HIV stigma free world!
I am proud to be the first Dragking open about my HIV status in the Netherlands, in Burundi and the whole of Africa. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the drag community and that a performance such as Becoming: Drag provides me with a platform to fight stigma and discrimination.
In the end what brings us together is connectedness through drag as art. To perform our art for you to enjoy we feel stronger together as one big family. I truly believe the beautiful art of drag is a way to express ourselves, to share our passion, and to come together as a community. What an incredible evening!
This blog was originally posted on hivstigmafighter.