Pride 2020: how the drag community has been affected by Covid-19

Posted by for Life

Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen, Asifa Lahore, is one of the many LGBTQ+ voices to record a monologue for the Anthem podcast’s Pride series. Here, Asifa explains why it’s so important to continue Pride 2020 celebrations amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

To help celebrate Pride during the pandemic, I decided to talk about “reconciliation” on the Anthems podcast. I chose this because, where I am in life right now – especially in lockdown – I’m thinking about reconciliation in all of my identity.

I describe myself as a very intersectional person and my life has really been about struggling with all the identities that make me who I am: British; of south Asian heritage; Pakistani; from a Muslim background; transgender; part of the queer community; disabled (I’m on the blind spectrum).

Throughout my life I’ve had to really deal with acknowledging these labels. But, through reconsilliation, I realise that rather than letting five or six labels define Asifa Lahore, actually, Asifa Lahore defines these labels. Asifa Lahore is one fluid person. All those labels are part of her.

Pride 2020, for me, is about survival, making my voice heard and being resilient.

I’ve had to be resilient my entire life, it’s not like it’s new to me, but I find I need resilience more right now because of the social, economical and health inequalities that Covid-19 has brought.

And with everything that is happening around Black Lives Matter, it’s clear we also still have racial inequality in the world. Racism exists within the LGBTQ+ community: diversity and inclusion isn’t properly tackled – we’ve made attempts in the last decade, but the issues are still there. 

So, Pride really means surviving.

That’s why it’s important to still celebrate Pride this year virtually with social media, to keep our voices and community alive. 

In the last decade, about 70% of LGBTQ+ venues have closed across the country and I would hate to see the ones that are remaining go under as well.  

So celebrate Pride and the drag community by supporting those spaces: don’t let them be victims of the looming recession. Funding will eventually dwindle, so it’s important to support charities, club spaces and community spaces.

Because, the fact is that jobs in the drag community went to zero overnight as soon as lockdown happened. All our venues and spaces closed. 

A lot of us have taken our performances online. But I have to say that for queens who are local that haven’t made it yet – for example, onto the Drag Race – they are the queens who are suffering and finding it really hard to be supported online. 

The struggle is definitely real. 

I fear that, because budgets have been squeezed, we will see a lot of queens taking off their heels and setting them aside for the last time. But drag will survive! In whatever form that is – virtual or whatever, I hope a lot of queens return after the pandemic.

You can listen to Asifa Lahore’s Anthems podcast episode below.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: courtesy of Asifa Lahore

Share this article