Drag Race UK’s Lawrence Chaney: ‘I don’t know if I’m male, female, or somewhere in between’
Lawrence Chaney opens up about gender, misogyny, and Drag Race UK.
Lawrence Chaney’s debut book, Drag Queen of Scots: The Dos and Don’ts of a Drag Superstar is a candid look back at her journey so far – her difficult childhood, marred by bullying; her painfully relatable coming out story; her journey towards better mental health.
It’s not all serious – there are hilarious, NSFW sex stories (you’ll never be able to keep a straight face when you hear “gagging on your eleganza” again, insights into the Drag Race UK werk room, and a practical guide on how to become – as the title suggests – a drag superstar.
Early on in Lawrence’s book, she discusses gender identity.
“I still don’t know if I am male, female, or somewhere outwith or in between. I think the best way to describe my gender if fluid, but this isn’t finite. I see myself as ever evolving and always discovering more about myself.”
Reflecting on this journey to PinkNews, Lawrence explains: “Back in 2019 I thought I was trans.
“I remember picking the brains the people around me in my scene. There was one queen who I asked for advice from and she was trans herself. And she said: ‘Well, I’m more trans than you.’ And I was like, what? Is there a scale? Is there a Richter scale of transness or queerness that I’m missing out on?
“It made me really uncomfortable. And I never thought about it after then, but it was when I watched Drag Race, when I heard RuPaul refer to me as he, and then I heard Michelle call me she, that just added to the ‘knock, knock, you don’t know who you are yet!’ It kind of brought those feelings to the forefront again, which is why I got really down on myself.”
Lawrence credits Drag Race UK with teaching them not to be too hard on themself, having previously worried that by coming out as one thing, and then continuing to evolve their idea of themself, they could disappoint others.
“I just wanted to be really certain of who I was. And the truth is, none of us are ever certain of who we are really, because we are all we’re all on a journey of self-discovery. So I think that’s been the main thing I’ve learned – from Drag Race, as well – is not being too hard on myself.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Mona Lisa wasn’t painted in a day. It’s absolutely OK to be a work in progress.”
As we’re talking about labels – something Lawrence thinks can be “awkward”, but that are necessary in “such an unequal world… so that we can uplift people”, talk turns to Victoria Scone.
She’s the first cisgender woman – the first woman, period – to be cast on Drag Race UK, and Lawrence has been vocal in defending her from “misogynistic” trolls.
“Before I was on Drag Race I had never heard of her. And then when – I shouldn’t really be saying this – but when Reddit said Victoria Scone is one of the cast members – my flatmate, who is a trans woman [and a drag queen], just started crying so much.
“They were like, finally, we have a chance. I can come out now and be my true self and still have the chance to get on Drag Race. It’s not just this male world.
“Because that is the other thing that I remember, my flatmate was so worried about is like, ‘if I come out, will that hinder me getting on Drag Race?’
“And I guess I was also insecure as well in myself, but for different reasons, about coming out. I was like, will I be a finished product? Will people time put me in a box?
“So when Victoria got on, it was groundbreaking – and it is groundbreaking. But how sad is it that in 2021 there are misogynistic arseholes out there who try and defend the fact that they think Victoria Scone shouldn’t be a Drag Race for any other reason other than the fact she’s a woman.
“People just don’t like women and people are trying to not let women in the drag world. But actually, if you’re a true drag fan, you go to the club, you go to any club, you’ll see trans women, you’ll see trans men, you’ll see non-binary folks, you’ll see gay men, gay women, you’ll see everyone out this club, in drag. So I think it’s about time that Drag Race stepped up and represented more of what we see in a club.”
In a few weeks Lawrence will pass on her Drag Race UK crown, and she has big ambitions for what comes next. She sees herself acting, presenting, becoming the next Lorraine Kelly.
“I think the sky’s the limit for me. I got told, because I’m from rural Helensborough in Scotland, people would be like: ‘You can’t be famous… you’re not as talented.’ When has famous ever been about being the most talented? I’m sorry, Keeping up the Kardashians? No, it’s about the hustle. It’s about putting in the work. It’s about putting in the hours. It’s about being dedicated. I just enjoy drag, I love and live to do drag. So that is why I see it as the sky’s the limit.”
Lawrence Chaney’s Drag Queen of Scots: The Dos and Don’ts of a Drag Superstar.