The 14-year-old boy who was banned from debuting his drag act in a school talent show has confirmed that he will be performing at DragWorld UK alongside stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Lewis Bailey was told the day before the contest at Castle High School and Visual Arts College in the west Midlands that he would not be allowed to go on stage as drag queen Athena Heart.
Lewis, who came out as gay to his mum and stepdad last year and has performed his drag act for them at home, said he was “heartbroken,” adding that the school told him “it’s because it is illegal – but I think the real reason is they don’t accept me for who I am.”
But he has now accepted an invitation to perform at DragWorld UK, an event which calls itself “Europe’s largest celebration of drag,” and will feature former Drag Race contestants Jinx Monsoon, Bebe Zahara Benet and Farrah Moan.
And Lewis told PinkNews that he was delighted for himself and all drag kids, saying: “I’m very excited about my DragWorld invite to perform and get my name out there so others just like me know that it’s ok to be different.”
Nathan Stone, the creative director of MJR Group – which is organising DragWorld UK – said: “We are so excited to have Lewis and his family at our event.
“It is an absolute honour to showcase the great young talent. We don’t believe anyone should be told they can’t be who they want to be!”
Attendees of the event at Olympia London will be treated to Lewis’s dance to a medley of songs mixed by his stepdad, Dale Griffiths, which includes Little Mix, Ariana Grande and RuPaul.
Lewis, whose drag act was inspired by Drag Race, said after the school cancelled his act that he was “heartbroken and confused.”
The teenager, who has described himself as “a 14-year-old Gender Bender,” added that “after all the effort I have put into it, it has knocked my confidence a lot.
“When I’m in drag I feel I’m truly being myself.”
And Lewis’s mum, Natalie, 37, said drag had enabled Lewis to come out of his shell, before condemning the school for its 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.
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“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.
“I said no. Why should he miss out on his education because of their views.”
Michelle King, the school’s principal at Castle Academy, said the decision was made because “it was 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.
The crowd at DragWorld UK 2018 will be only too happy to judge for themselves.
The number of children embracing drag culture is seemingly on the rise, with one star, American 10-year-old Desmond Napoles, taking the world by storm.
Known on social media as Desmond is Amazing, the drag kid has around 80,000 followers on Instagram and even created the first ever drag club for just for children, Haus of Amazing.
Drag kids do still face challenges though, with one nine-year-old star, Nemis Quinn Mélançon Golden – who performs as Lactatia – experiencing a horrific backlash after they modelled for a clothing company.