A 14-year-old boy who was banned from doing a drag number in a school talent show will be performing with stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Lewis Bailey had planned to debut his drag persona Athena Heart in Castle High School and Visual Arts College’s talent show when he was told that he would not be able to perform.
Bailey said that he was “heartbroken” by the decision, telling PinkNews the his act was cut “because it is illegal,” according to the school. “I think the real reason is they don’t accept me for who I am,” Bailey said.
It’s not all bad news, though. After hearing about his exclusion from the show, Bailey was invited to perform alongside Drag Race stars Jinkx Monsoon, Bebe Zahara Benet and Farrah Moan at their DragWorld UK tour.
“I’m very excited about my DragWorld invite to perform and get my name out there,” he said, “so others just like me know that it’s ok to be different.”
Nathan Stone, creative director of MJR Group which produces DragWorld UK, said they were “excited” to have Bailey at the event.
“It is an absolute honour to showcase [this] great young talent,” he told PinkNews. “We don’t believe anyone should be told they can’t be who they want to be.”
Bailey’s mother, Natalie, said that drag has made her son more confident, and struggled to understand the school’s decision.
“One of the teachers told him he couldn’t do it any more because the law that says you can’t do competitions as a drag act if you are under 18,” she said. “This would have been his first performance in front of people in public. His act for the talent show was dressing as a lady and dancing. There is no swearing, no raunchy behaviour, nothing over the top. It’s just him dressing as a female doing a dance.
“I can’t believe it. I spoke to the headteacher and she asked if I was removing him from the school because I wasn’t happy with the decision,” she continued. “I said no. Why should he miss out on his education because of their views.”
Michelle King, the school’s principal at Castle Academy, cited the reasoning that drag culture is “not age-appropriate for either the learner and for the intended audience, his peer group, for Lewis to appear as a ‘drag act.’”
“We understood Lewis wanted to appear in the style of Rau Paul [sic], whose style of performance is characterised by strong language and sexual innuendo,” she added.