Cape Town has a scintillating drag tradition that dates back to the Thirties, especially in vibrant District Six. Today the pageants, the parties, the hairdressing salons and the fabulous drag queen shows still flourish across the city. However, it`s often hosted by backwood clubs, catering to a select few who know where to find them. The Queens of Cape Town is a photographic project that explores the world of drag queen beauty pageants and aims to look beyond the glitz and glamour of stilettos, glitter and tiaras to highlight the importance of safe spaces where queer bodies are celebrated. The Miss Gay pageants provide a platform for individuals to express themselves in a space where the LGBT community feels safe.
“The pageants thus become a vehicle to educate our communities, to respect and show tolerance towards people from diverse sexual orientation, cultural, religious and racial backgrounds. By deconstructing and breaking down the barriers of shame and intolerance important steps are taken in creating a just and equitable society.” Enigma Von Hamburg
Labels like ‘gay,’ ‘straight,’ ‘female,’ or ‘male,’ just don’t fit-nor matter — in the world of drag queens. Drag queens thrive to push the envelope of gender and force the audience to realise the extensive complexity of gender representation and sexuality. It will never just be male or female; it goes deeper than appearance. Beyond their bold makeup, drag queens are standing up for the right to play and tease with gender and strip away the ‘traditional’ views of what gender is.
Lee-Ann Olwage is a visual story teller and photographic artist from South Africa. Her
work explores themes of identity and universal narratives through long-term
collaborative projects. She aims to create thought provoking narratives that challenges preconceived
notions, stereotypes and prejudices and she is driven by her deep love for portraiture
and the human experience. Her long term collaborative projects allow subjects to
engage in the co-creation of their stories and how they are represented.
With the help of strong female mentors she is finding her unique voice and creating
work that unapologetically says I’m here – this is me.
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