Shut Up and Drag
By Jimmy Wiggins, Photo by R. Macsemchuk
When the pandemic hit in 2020, many of us in the queer community were left uncertain about how Pride would look, or if there would even be a Pride celebration. At the time, in-person events were not an option as large public gatherings would have been both irresponsible and against government regulations. Drag folk specifically were worried about the kind of impact it would have on their careers, and it left a lot of us in the dark. But if there’s one thing queer people are, it’s resilient.
Like most people, during lockdown I spent a lot of time scrolling aimlessly online. Every so often I’d check in to see how other drag scenes were adapting to this new way of life, especially in the weeks leading up to Pride. One event that kept popping up in different cities, mostly in the U.S. and parts of the U.K., really caught my attention. The premise was simple. Instead of large groups of fans flocking to one location to see the queens and kings perform at a bar or theatre, the queens and kings would travel to the driveways of their fans and perform mini shows. This blew me away and it checked all the boxes—drag performers could do what they love and entertain, fans could enjoy a drag show and actually have a Pride celebration, and because everyone was outside with no close contact between performer and audience, COVID guidelines were being followed. It was a win-win situation.
(L–R) Amber Ail and Mz. Molly Poppinz
Depending on what city or part of the world you’re in, this event goes by different names. Some call it Driveway Drag or Drive-Thru Drag, others call it Drive N’ Drag. In TBay, we call it Drive-By Drag (DBD), and it’s helped bring some much-needed joy and magic to people during a very dark time. Even when restrictions were lifted, fans were still very excited to have queens and kings perform in their yards or driveway. “It’s another way to celebrate Pride for those who may not usually enjoy more typical spaces where drag is featured,” explains local queen Amber Ail. “My favourite stops are when someone invites all their neighbours, or when a neighbourhood pools for a show, and we dance in the street to people all around us. Literally bringing Pride to the people’s doorstep!”
For some, it’s about giving back and including those who might want to see a show but for physical or mental health reasons, just can’t. DBD is a way to make sure they get to celebrate. “To me, Drive-By Drag is the most integral part of Pride,” says local king Ivan Love. “It shows our love for our community and how we are willing to go out of our way to make sure everyone who wants to experience and celebrate Pride gets to celebrate. It gives opportunities for those who perhaps cannot make it to a venue or even leave their homes a chance to see a drag show.”
Drive-By Drag has become a huge success, selling out in 2020 and again in 2021. It’s well on its way to becoming a staple event for our community, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the amazing team that helped put it all together.
Drive-By Drag 2022 will take place on June 25. Keep an eye out online for how to book your show. For more information, follow Wiggins Productions, Thunder Pride, and Rainbow Collective on social media.