Down syndrome drag collective banned from performing over ‘serious ethical concerns’
A drag collective featuring queens and kings with Down syndrome has been barred from performing at a venue in Michigan due to ‘serious ethical concerns’.
Drag Syndrome were due to perform at an ArtPrize Project 1 venue, organised by DisArt, but the group were forced to pull out after venue owner Peter Meijer raised concerns about the performers.
In a letter posted onto DisArt’s Facebook page, Meijer said: “The differently abled are among the most special souls in our community, and I believe they, like children and other vulnerable populations, should be protected.
“Artistic expression is inherently political, and in making this decision I approached the issue from a content neutral basis.
“Setting aside the content, the involvement of individuals whose ability to act of their own volition is unclear raises serious ethical concerns that I cannot reconcile.
“I cannot know, and neither can an audience, whether the individuals performing for Drag Syndrome are giving, or are in a position to give, their full and informed consent.”
One of the performers, Justin Bond, has posted a response on Instagram in which he opened up about being a drag king.
In the video, Bond says: “Being with Drag Syndrome has been one crazy ride and I’ve always wanted to become a famous drag king.
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“I don’t want people in America to think that Daniel is abusing us. He’s trying to help us become more famous as we all are.
“And I think it’s great what he’s doing. He’s doing a wonderful job supporting us and building us up to become famous drag kings, queens and kings.
“And it feels great to do that. I just wanna live my life as a drag king. And also, I’ve been a drag queen.
“Being a drag king is what I wanna do for a living and I know most Americans think it’s terrible.
“’You have Down syndrome. You don’t have what it takes.’ But I think we do have what it takes because we deserve the right to be in drag and to perform.”