London's drag community concerned for safety

A photo of drag artist Galaxy Rose speaking at a Pride event CREDIT: KELVIN TAYLOR
Local drag queen, Galaxy Rose, said safety protocols have really changed following hate motivated events that occurred in 2022.

London’s drag community is changing the way they do things, with safety being top of mind. Local drag queen, Galaxy Rose, said safety protocols have really changed following hate motivated events that occurred in 2022.

“I remember I had a gig pretty recently right after [the Colorado Springs club shooting] and I was quite shaken,” said Rose. “I was also a part of the Wortley Pride event, which also had a hate motivated incident. It really shakes you to your core to think that you’re going to be in your safe space, but it could be breached and there could be something violent to occur.”

Even online, Rose said there are some comments that are beginning to get out of hand.

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“I have some drag story time gigs coming up and the comments that are going around drag story time are vicious. It’s getting really bad, especially in the smaller communities where people are going out and actively protesting these events.”

With Lavish, a local gay bar in London, being right around the corner, the hatred the drag and LGBTQ2S+ community are experiencing is a huge concern. Rose said some of their friends have started to make sure they have ways to protect themselves, just in case something were to happen at their gig. Rose has also experienced protesters at their event. Some are silent, but others aren’t.

“It kind of makes you feel helpless because there’s not really much you can do, and you still want to go out and be able to create these spaces, especially for the young kids. It makes you feel helpless because you don’t know if there’s going to be someone there, if those protestors are organized enough to cause something violent to happen.”

The main concern for Rose is the kids. While being a young person among the LGBTQ2S+ community, these events are critical for them to embrace who they are.

“I can’t even imagine how terrifying that would be for a kid who is just trying to live their best life and learn about inclusivity to be faced with that kind of hate and fear.

Now, they focus on keeping everyone safe. This can be ensuring they are prepared with extra security and keeping a keen eye on the situation. If anything looks as if it could get dangerous, events have been and will be cancelled to protect everyone involved.

“We’re seeing a lot of people pull back from these events, just because that’s what we need to do. It’s affecting us financially, but it’s also affecting our way of life because drag is more than just a career. It’s a way of life, it’s a creative expression, it’s sort of just part of you. When you take that away, it kind of leaves a bit of a void.”

For anyone out there who is part of the LGBTQ2S+ community and is struggling with everything going on, especially for the young kids trying to navigate their identity and place in the community, Rose has a message.

“Despite everything, just be yourself. Live your most authentic life in spite of fear, in spite of chaos, in spite of the rhetoric of hate. We have to persist, we have to be louder, we have to be more present, more represented, we need to be more visible.”

Lavish was unable to comment, but told CTV News that they feel confident in their safety protocols.