A leaked letter from June 2022 signed by local businesses to the Sussex City Council and mayor outlined their outrage at an “all ages drag show” to be featured in the city’s “Diversifest” event.
The irony that a festival called “Diversifest” would receive a letter complaining about LGBTQ+ entertainment is likely not lost on most readers.
The letter reasoned that “the Christian heritage of Sussex along with the Muslim faith of so many of our newcomers [means] this performance will be offensive to many of our constituents.”
Eleven local businesses signed it.
Fortunately, the all-ages drag show still occurred on June 25th, 2022. In fact, according to the Sussex Multicultural Association, which organized Diversifest, it was Sussex’s first-ever drag show.
In a statement regarding the letter’s content, the authors reiterated that drag shows are innately sexual, and therefore inappropriate for an all-ages audience—specifically mentioning children.
In response to this comment, a local drag queen from Fredericton, Kyle, stated that “Personally, I think drag is the least sexy thing ever … when I’m up there I got hip pads, tights, wigs; I’m itchy, I’m sweaty and uncomfortable. That [sexualization] is the farthest thing on my mind when I think of drag.”
Kyle pointed out that, while some people do specifically “sexy drag” that is meant to be sexualized, the drag performers who do exclusively “sexy drag” would never agree to an all-ages show in the first place.
“When drag queens or drag kings are doing these shows, they’re doing it because they know their audience … you are an entertainer first … as long as the audience has a good time, that’s always number one priority.”
It appears that, despite the disapproving letter from some local businesses, the all-ages drag show at Diversifest was a huge success and appreciated by its Sussex audience—the goal of any drag performer.
According to the Multicultural Association of Sussex, “There were SO many people present for the drag performance and everyone was dancing, cheering, and in awe! We’ve had people thanking us nonstop for ensuring that drag and 2SLGBTQIA+ are represented in the festival, and we hope that this is the first of many!!”
It appears that the letter complaining about the all-ages drag show was likely from a vocal minority, as the Sussex community and its all-ages audience seemed thoroughly entertained.
Interestingly, many in Fredericton’s drag community declined to comment on the letter to Sussex’s City Council. Kyle, who did agree to an interview, pointed out that the letter is not surprising, and it is likely that many in the drag community feel it is best just to leave it be and continue with their craft—like water off a duck’s back.