Cheddar Gorgeous, Courtney Act and a gaggle of sickening drag queens are belting out Vera Lynn to raise money for vulnerable elders
Twenty-six drag queens including Cheddar Gorgeous, Courtney Act, Peaches Christ and Blu Hydrangea have come together to raise money for older people isolated during the coronavirus crisis.
The colourful cast of queens have united to sing Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” as part of a fundraiser for Age UK.
The charity is experiencing an unprecedented rise in demand as it supports older people during lockdown, offering companionship calls and delivering food parcels to those who are isolated even moreso than usual due to social distancing and mandatory shielding for over-70s.
Age UK also does specific work with queer people from the older generations. Research shows that older LGBT+ people are more vulnerable to isolation as they are more likely to be single, live alone, and have lower levels of contact with relatives, and are at-risk of healthcare discrimination and other issues.
Cheddar Gorgeous, star of Channel 4’s Drag SOS, was inspired to get involved after spending time working with LGBT+ elder groups in Manchester.
The cover version began as a way to reconnect with other drag queen friends during lockdown.
They’d been chatting online with Courtney Act, who’s currently in LA, about covering Vera Lynn for fun. Two days later, the other queen, Queen Elizabeth, made a rare address to the nation, ending her speech with the words “We will meet again”.
“I was like, that’s a sign,” Cheddar says.
It soon clicked that the video could do more than just give a group of drag queens something to do.
“Obviously the song has such a resonance for older people, and I’ve been working a little bit at the moment with LGBT+ elders so they were in the forefront of my mind.
“So it was actually just a really nice thing that could come from a group of us wanting to reconnect with one another.”
Cheddar Gorgeous says drag queens are falling over themselves to help others.
After sending messages to performers she’d worked with, Cheddar ended up with a diverse group of 26 queens, including members of the Family Gorgeous, Drag Race stars and Dragula contestants.
As well as Cheddar and Courtney, the video features Pagina Heals, Liquorice Black, Tete Bang, Cara Melle, Peaches Christ, Victoria Secret, Crystal, Trixie Carr, Banksie, Miss Blair, Lady Galore, Very Cherry, Lydia L’Scabies, Misty Chance, Ghost Electra, Quiches Lorraine, Admira Thunderpussy, Miss Heinz, Yshee Black, Blu Hydrangea, Anna Phylactic, Hollow Eve, Meth and Julie Noted.
It came as little surprise to Cheddar that so many wanted to get involved.
“You see it across the board with with drag queens but also with queer performers and with with artists in general.
“You’ve got this group of people who aren’t really in a great position financially, who might be struggling at the moment to survive — but every single digital drag show that you see going out from the big superstar ones all the way through to the local community ones, they are all tagging themselves and getting involved in some kind of community fundraising activity.
And I think that shows something that’s very much at the core of what drag does — how it creates communities, and how it organises people around really, really important issues.
Cheddar thinks the reason that this particular cause resonates with so many drag queens because, plainly, they wouldn’t exist without those who paved the way for them.
“In the LGBT+ community we owe the people who are in their 60s and 70s an incredible amount for what they did, for pushing our own visibility and allowing the lives that we enjoy to exist today.”
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To those trailblazers, Cheddar says: “It might feel sometimes like you’re not being seen.
“I think it’s a huge problem already within the gay community that we fail to recognise sometimes, that the older people in our community exist.
“A lot of our communities to a certain extent, and a lot of the community activity can be built around things that might not necessarily appeal to older people or that older people feel that they don’t have a place in.
“I don’t know what kind of impact somebody like me saying it would have, to say that we are thinking of you. And I wish that I was able to go out and see people and talk to people in touch people but you know, that is not the nature of the situation.
“But maybe the thought that other people are thinking of them right now and putting their needs first and remembering that they are fabulous, knowing that we see them, maybe that fulfils a good function.”