In January 1964, the Florida Legislative released a report stating, “This Committee is convinced that many facets of homosexual practice as it exists in Florida today, pose a threat to the health and moral well-being of a sizeable portion of our population.” Over a half-century later, the State has become a featured Pride destination in Central and South Florida cities such as Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, and Key West. In North Florida, many LGBTQ+ residents live in areas still aspiring for a better sense of equality. Luckily, Queer-friendly spaces continue to house a community that has challenged a conventional life with a more vibrant, exaggerated form of authenticity.
For many LGBTQ+ persons, a Drag performance serves as initiation into the community. Some even dare to make their way to the stage and dedicate years of refining their own form of Drag. When a new generation of Drag Queens emerge, they are tailored by their Drag Mother, building not only a mentorship, but a kinship as well. In their early development, Drag Queens work to form their own persona as an extension of themselves and a creative outlet. Today, we see many more Drag Queens in the public eye, still in the forefront of Queer representation. However, what many people do not see is the ever-evolving work each performer puts into their image and their effect of their home communities. It was important for me to witness and capture these elements of Drag culture.
In my photographic career, I have been given access to the most creative forces in North Florida. I have witnessed performers in their natural form – on and off stage. It was important for me to capture a performer’s transformation from a public identity into a Queer form of their individuality. As each performer evolves, they hold on to the traditions of their foremothers - pushing the boundaries of sexuality, gender, fashion, and criticizing the entrapments of a status quo. Drag Queens serve as social educators with lessons of living an authentic life by inviting vulnerability, and permitting you to become any kind of person you desire to be. This is done with the permission you give yourself, the unconditional support of others, and the willingness to evolve. Though, life can be kind of a drag, we have every right to live it glamorously.