Local drag queen Barb Wire performed Lizzo’s ‘About Damn Time’ at St. Thomas University’s welcome week sex trivia event. This marks an important moment as the drag scene grows in the Maritimes.
Annabelle Babineau, who portrays Barb Wire, said the increase in drag popularity brings different points of view to the table. One thing Babineau brings is representation.
“The school invited a drag queen to come host this,” Babineau said. “This means that the school is probably going to welcome me if I’m a little bit gay.”
While Babineau wants to entertain, she also wants to bring a sense of vulnerability to her performances. Babineau said that it’s important to talk about things like homophobia, mental health and coping mechanisms.
In past events, some students have been as young as the sixth grade.
“The thought of having me as a kid seeing something like this on that stage — I think it would have helped me a lot growing up,” Babineau said.
Although it was Babineau’s first time hosting an event like STU’s sex trivia, students enjoyed it.
“They were so loud. It was amazing. I loved it. I could just feel the love,” Babineau said.
Third-year student Camila Gómez attended the welcome week event and said she admires Babineau’s confidence.
“This is a way to encourage them and all the people in general to show who they are. Be confident of themselves,” said Gómez. “And know that they are not alone and there are also people that are willing to hear what they have to say.”
The sex trivia, coordinated by the Campus Sexual Assault Support Advocates (CSASA), included guest health experts who discussed healthy relationships, sexual health and sexual consent with mostly first-year students at STU.
Support advocate Hilary Swan said this was the first time they incorporated drag into one of their activities and it allowed them to “add levity and joy to sensitive topics without losing the education.”
“Drag has a way of affirming that we are allowed to have fun with gender and express our identity in whichever ways feel authentic to ourselves,” Swan said. “People come and have a good time while learning something in the process.”
Local performer Amour Love has used their platform to advocate for mental health, in doing fundraisers and including topics surrounding mental health in their performances.
“Drag is an art medium that allows the individual to embody something greater than themselves,” Love said.
They said drag is special because it comes from a minority community, which means it can come from pain, but that it’s about breaking the narration from being a victim to a survivor to thriving.
“I think love conquers all, and self-acceptance conquers all, and it’s something that everybody can understand. It’s a universal language of love,” Love said. “And so I think drag is the pure essence of acceptance and diversity and inclusion and the political fight.”