Drag queens feeling increasingly unsafe in Netherlands
Drag as an art form is more popular than ever, but performers are also experiencing more aggression and violence directed at them. Many drag queens no longer dare to go out in their full regalia. Some are scared to attend shows by themselves, AD reports after speaking with various agencies and their drag queens.
“Drag stands for freedom, but this way, drag is no longer freedom,” Yildiz Siskens, owner of Drags of Anarchy and manager of countless drag queens, told the newspaper. She referred to a recent incident in Groningen, where employees of a drag bar got attacked shortly after a show over the weekend. That “attack on our community” is just the tip of the iceberg, Siskens said. “Many incidents don’t even make the media. I once had to call the police because one of my queens was attacked on the street.”
Drag queens throughout the Netherlands often hear all kinds of accusations and insults directed at them. “I am 19 years old, and I am being called a pedophile on the internet,” Queen X (Daan Franssen from Groningen) told the newspaper. “I think I will change on location from now on. I really don't want to experience such confrontation.”
Homophobic youths once attacked Miss Abby OMG (Henrique dos Santos) after a show. “My wig was pulled off my head, and I was laughed at and abused,” Miss Abby OMG said. “I’m not taking any risks anymore. Some places, like Rotterdam and Eindhoven, are really a no-go for me. I don’t feel safe there at all, and it’s only getting worse.”
Several agencies are taking measures. “We no longer let our queens walk on the street alone in full regalia. A taxi will take them up and down,” said Lasse Schouwstra, co-founder of The Queer Agency. “If we cannot guarantee 100% safety, we will adjust ab booking or cancel it completely.”
An event in Rotterdam, in which drag queens read to children, recently made the media because the rights-ing foundation De Roze Leeuw wants to ban it. According to the conservative group, drag queens are linked to sex and, therefore, unsuitable for children. Following the example of Tenessee - an American state that banned drag shows for children - it announced demonstrations and launched a petition to ban the completely sold-out event.
Drag shows sometimes include sexual expressions, “but that does not mean that it happens around children,” said 32-year-old Ma’MaQueen. “I have been reading children’s books to children for many years. These are wonderful, educational stories about diversity in the broadest sense of the word. We are not talking about sexual acts. We make the children laugh and bring them joy.”
According to Ma’MaQueen, their often right-wing conservative opponents are guided by incorrect imagery and a narrow worldview. “They don’t even come to our events,” she told AD. “We’re not making a fist against this, but offer a warm heart. We want to bridge the gap between multiple groups and see the world differently. With the most important message: everyone can be themselves.”