Transcript: Climate Quickie: Why drag artistry is a trojan horse for climate action
TEDxLondon Climate Curious
Drag artist, cultural icon, and general good egg – Cheddar Gorgeous – joins Climate Curious to share why drag artistry is the perfect trojan horse for climate action. Over to Cheddar to share why drag is an incredible medium to one, create spectacle and grab awareness, and two, disrupt the master narratives that dictate our society.
Quotes from the episode:
🐴 “I always think of drag and as a bit of a Trojan horse. We tease you in. With an entertaining prospect, without enmeshment, and then we like to hit you with something maybe you’re not expecting.”
🤝 “Drag at its best drag at its best builds connection, to be a place where people can come together.”
🎭 “Drag can disrupt the master narratives that dictate our society. I love drag that makes you look at yourself and look at the world in a different way. And that can be deployed in all sorts of exciting ways.”
💖 “An activist is a very special kind of person. And the only attention they get is very negative attention, usually.”
🛡 “Ironically, I think I actually face more abuse out of drag than I ever do in drag. I think people are a little scared to confront a seven foot tall, bald, human-looking creature, with sclera lenses. It’s quite a good armour.”
💌 “It’s in forgiveness that you will really find the drive for action with one another. Because we have to work with one another.”
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Maryam Pasha: [00:00:00] Welcome to Climate Quickies, bite sized nuggets of climate goodness from our TEDxLondon experts in under five minutes.
Ben Hurst: In this week’s Climate Quickie, from Climate Curious by TEDxLondon, we’re joined by a drag race icon to learn about why drag artistry is the perfect Trojan horse to raise awareness of the climate crisis.
Cheddar Gorgeous: [00:00:41] Hello, it’s me Cheddar Gorgeous, drag artist, cultural icon, and general good egg. I always think of drag and as queer entertainment in general as a bit of a Trojan horse. Do you know what I mean? We tease you in with an entertaining prospect, indeed with a, with our enmeshment with the worlds of entertainment.[00:00:59] And then we like to [00:01:00] hit you with something maybe you’re not expecting. And that, that, you know, I think drag is something that not… can that doesn’t only speak to issues of queer liberation. It can also be used to, uh, advocate for all kinds of causes and for all kinds of communities. So it was really amazing to see them using a queer performance and indeed parody. [00:01:24] And so for me, drag at its best, [00:01:30] uh, always does two things. And that’s not to say that drag always does these things. I’m just saying that drag, at its best, does these two things. And that is to build connection. Um, to be a place where people can come together. You know, you turn yourself into a spectacle, you become noticed. [00:01:49] Um, and in doing so, you become the thing that people talk about, you become the thing that actually builds connections between people. Um, and I’ve seen drag’s power to make [00:02:00] communities very, in a very first hand way. And whether that be in the nightclub, whether that be online, whether that be in your local cabaret. [00:02:07] Um, It, it, it becomes a way of telling stories. It becomes a way of seeing yourself up on stage or seeing an aspect of your experience represented up on stage. And I’m sharing that with a group of people who may share that experience. [00:02:25] But the other thing that I love to see drag doing is disrupting. The [00:02:30] master narratives that dictate our society. I love drag that, um, makes you look at yourself and look at the world in a different way. And that can be deployed in all sorts of exciting ways. We can deploy that for entertainment in a way that can have a really, really wonderful effect and can have an amazing… [00:02:47] confidence building effect. It can have an amazing way of pushing forward things around gender and sexuality, but also we can turn that use of attention to different things. And so I realized this very, very [00:03:00] early on about drag. And so for me, I was, I kind of thought, well, it’s great that you see so much drag and doing LGBT stuff, but wouldn’t it be great if we also. [00:03:08] See drag doing stuff for BLM stuff around climate change, actually using drag and becoming that living spectacle to celebrate other people and celebrate people who we should be celebrating more or raise awareness on certain issues and amplify certain issues in a bigger way. So for me, that’s always been my issue with dragging. [00:03:27] It doesn’t, you know, I’ve certainly done stuff around climate [00:03:30] change. I don’t pretend to be perfect and I don’t pretend to be a climate activist because climate activists. And like all activists, um, activists are people who get no attention until they’re arrested, right? Whereas, like, I’m an artist. And I’m an artist that can do stuff that can be useful to the world, and I’m really, really proud of that. [00:03:52] But an activist is a very special kind of person, and the only attention they get is very negative attention [00:04:00] usually. And I think we see a lot of that happening at the moment when it comes to climate activists forcing people to confront things around fossil fuels. That’s activism, and I wouldn’t ever dare. [00:04:12] to propose that what I do is in equal measure to that. There’s something really there about the use of spectacle and standing out that we see so much in the climate change protests at the moment. [00:04:30] And it makes, it makes me feel a great affinity in terms of the, like the early, if you think of early drag queens at protests, who were, you know, facing down police and using spectacle and using standing out and and being forced to confront people who fundamentally disagreed with what they’re doing. [00:04:51] You know, that was, that was a real age of activism in drag. Um, and for me, sure, I sometimes face abuse, and I sometimes [00:05:00] face, I face all sorts of things online, but like, sometimes face to face I face abuse as well for the work that I do. But it’s nothing in comparison. Ironically, I think I actually face more, um, stuff out of drag than I ever do in drag. [00:05:14] Um, because I think people are a little scared to confront a seven foot tall. bold human looking creature, um, with sclera lenses, you know. It’s quite a good armour. I [00:05:30] think the biggest thing that we can probably do is support those people who are calling for real action, who are calling for our governments to take full on regulatory action, and doing it with the vote as well. [00:05:42] Let’s demand it from the politicians as they put themselves forward, although of course we are currently facing a government that looks like it’s going to fail upon its promises, its election promises. to reduce our emissions and to do more for climate change. Let’s make sure that they’re held account to that. [00:05:59] That this [00:06:00] isn’t just an additional, um, an additional election promise that can be seen as throwaway. And I think sometimes that’s, that’s how climate change is seen. It’s an add on that people put in their manifestos. And of course we’ll deal with climate. But secretly we have no intention to do anything and you won’t consider that a real issue because you’ll be too worried about how poor you are under us. [00:06:23] So I think that, um, I think it’s, it’s about making sure that we all do what we can to make sure that the people [00:06:30] who really have power are called into account, but also in supporting those people who are going to be doing the calling into account and maybe, maybe being a little bit forgiving of one another too. [00:06:40] And because it’s, it’s in that forgiveness that you will really find the drive for action with one another because we have to work with one another.
Ben Hurst and Maryam Pasha
Thanks for listening to this quickie. This episode was created by our superstar podcast team at TEDxLondon. Until next time, stay curious.[00:07:00]