These Stunning Photos From 6 International Drag Communities Will Give You Life

These Stunning Photos From 6 International Drag Communities Will Give You Life
PHOTO: @MAGSLAMANGA AND @ODIDIVA / INSTAGRAM

Drag is an art form that goes back decades — perhaps even centuries — that's become more popular than ever in recent years thanks to RuPaul's Drag Race, a hit show that just notched its most-watched season ever.

But one thing many drag fans rarely consider is the notion that drag culture isn't limited to the U.S. In fact, there are blossoming, even flourishing drag communities all around the world — even in countries where homosexuality and anything perceived to be related to it are looked down upon or outright prohibited.

Read on to learn more about six international drag communities that are inspirations to everyone longing to express their truest selves.

Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut, Lebanon

The BBC recently did a profile about the drag scene in in Beirut, Lebanon, a country where homosexuality is still technically illegal. The few gay bars that are there are secluded and underground; all sexual relations that "contradict the laws of nature" (i.e., homosexuality) can be punished with up to a year in prison. 

Still, Beirut's drag community exists — and grows, with more and more queens "suddenly emerging," one of them told the BBC. The British broadcaster describes the scene itself as "evolving," and its queens, "fearless" — because they have to be. Bless these queens.

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

In 2013, the Taipei Times profiled a queen named Magnolia la Manga, or "Mags." A well-known part of the island's flourishing drag community, she told the newspaper that the queer community is generally accepted by Taiwanese people despite several hurdles in the push for gay marriage. (In fact, according to Mags, Taiwan has the biggest Pride parade in all of Asia.)

Pabllo Vittar posing in drag model photo shoot

Brazil

In stark contrast to the image suggested by flamboyant events like Carnival, Brazil is virtually unparalleled with it comes to anti-LGBT+ violence. According to Grupo Gay da Bahia, the country's oldest pro-gay rights group, there were 387 fatal hate crimes committed against LGBT+ people in Brazil last year.

Yet Brazil's drag community marches on. It, along with other LGBT+ communities within the country's borders, aredetermined to change the public perception of queer people, increasing acceptance and ending hateful violence, Billboard wrote in March.

Pop singer and drag queen Pabllo Vittar is at the forefront of this battle. After trying drag as a joke, she's decided to use it as a platform to inspire change: "I’m very happy that I have this space and an opportunity to lend my voice to the LGBTQ cause, and to represent my sisters,” she told Billboard.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

Despite a lack of mainstream understanding of drag and a ban on LGBT media, drag communities are growing in Shanghai and other Chinese cities with the help of "RuPaul's Drag Race's" influence.

“I think 'RuPaul’s Drag Race' has really changed how people look at drag," Kimberly Kumswell, a seasoned Shanghai-based queen, told RADII China last fall. "Drag will never be mainstream, but the show has really removed some of the stigma surrounding drag within the gay community."

Drag queen Margaret Y Ya posing in a garden of eden scene holding a glass pomegranate

Mexico City

i-D interviewed multiple Mexico City-based drag queens last year to shed light on a growing community within a city plagued by natural disasters and a water crisis.

Drag performer Margaret Y Ya told the site that she uses drag to challenge misogyny and gender roles in a satirical and self-depreciating play: "We live in a context that's deeply misogynistic, even within the LGBTQ community," she explained. "I think that taking on the 'feminine' role in a 'masculine' body teaches people to think about the deconstruction of gender and how ambiguous and fragile it is in society."

Cape Town, South Africa
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Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town has its own problems, too, including a looming water crisis and issues associated with the end of apartheid, but so far nothing has been able to stop the city's incredible drag community. (It helps that Cape Town has been very accepting of the LGBT+ community at large, according to Cape Town Magazine.)

The South African city is home to a beautiful queen named Odidi Mfenyana, known as just "Odidiva" to many. She's traveled as far as Perth, Australia, to perform, drawing crowds by the thousands, and often incorporates themes of racial justice into her shows.

"My best performance was a public service announcement against xenophobia and hate crimes in South Africa," she told the magazine. "I wore my mother's gold dress, from her wedding reception, and I sang 'Strange Fruit,' lying across a piano. It was such a powerful song. I thought: 'I could actually die tomorrow, safe in the knowledge that I've actually done something for my world.' "

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LINDSEY WEEDSTON

Lindsey Weedston is NOT a social justice warrior. Clearly, her class is bard, with extra points in stealth and a little taken out of charisma. She's also a HUGE nerd, and can often be found gushing about video games. She even participated in a LARPing exercise once. Not nerdy enough to know what that is? Google it. You'll see.

Lindsey is a life-long feminist and writer and likes to color in adult coloring books with gel pens. She writes on LGBT+ and mental health issues, and will ruin your favorite childhood TV show with her feminism. Nothing you love is safe. Have a nice day!

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