The definition of ‘drag queen’ is “a man who dresses in woman’s clothing, typically for the purpose of entertainment.” The London community embraces this scene in many aspects, however, there are also those that are against the LQBTQ+ community.
Leon Grey, better known by his stage name of Miss Shaneen, has experienced both the ups and downs of being a part of the London drag scene. Miss Shaneen is London’s youngest drag queen at only 14 years old, and has already been a part of the scene for over a year and a half. Miss Shaneen explains to fans and haters alike why drag is important to him: “performing and making people happy and seeing[..] I didn’t have to be just that one normal person liking makeup and doing makeup looks: I could go around performing.” Miss Shaneen also explained that drag is an important part of being a community member. Most drag shows are dedicated to a charity event. Even tips that are given to the queens often go directly to their charity of choice.
Miss Shaneen’s charity of choice is often London HIV/AIDS connection, but can change depending on other needs in the community. One drag show event alone this year raised $3,785.90. He believes that because the community supports him, he should give back; this is his way of giving back. With many shows raising thousands of dollars, Miss Shaneen believes that being “kind” is one of the most important parts of his early drag career.
Aside from the fundraising opportunities that the London drag scene provides, it also gives a safe space for LGBTQ+ members to express their sexuality. Miss Shaneen explains the community as being like “another city, or another country.” For many, coming out to family members can be hard, and for some even dangerous. Lama Naboo, a student at Fanshawe College, has experienced the dangerous side of coming out in her family. When Ms. Naboo’s brother came out to her family they were not accepting due to their cultural background. The strict Muslim family agreed that her brother’s ‘choice’ was just that. They immediately disowned him, and even came forward with death threats. Eventually, Ms. Naboo’s brother was forced to leave the country due to the dangers of such threats. Lama Naboo learned from this experience, and pleads with all people to “be a source of support even if you don’t believe in it.”