Get ready to have your wigs and your expectations snatched by these two fabulous deaf drag queens.
The sheer joy and entertainment drag creates has attracted a rapidly expanding audience who are captivated by the fantastical lewks, quick reads and lip-syncing eleganza. The explosive popularity of drag in and out of the LGBTQ+ community has lent a brilliant platform for highlighting previously side-lined community issues. Particular shows, such as RuPaul’s Drag Race, have educated the masses on important issues in the LGBTQ+ community such as trans rights, the dangers of conversion therapy, and living with AIDS or HIV.
Two comedic drag queens are here to push representation even further, this time giving a voice to the deaf community.
Selena Minogue and Casavina are two deaf, latino drag queens who make up the comedy duo Deafies in Drag. The two met and started dating at university and with their mutual love of comedy, they started performing skits together. Wanting to explore female characters also, they introduced a drag element to their comedy. Self-taught with online makeup tutorials, they embraced their comedic drag personas and created Deafies in Drag. Though their YouTube channel started off as just a fun expression for the two of them, they soon discovered the positive, inclusive impact their work had for the deaf community and started to use their platform to educate others on the life of the hearing-impaired.
Their YouTube channel highlights the everyday life of having a hearing impairment, but with a fun and light-hearted twist. Their skits shine a light on menial tasks that hearing folk would take for granted – such as ordering from a drive-through or calling up the bank – and show through comedy the aggravating barriers life throws at them. The playful nature of their skits invite hearies to learn about a different community while still being in on the joke and laughing along (often at our ineptitude at interacting with deaf people).
Though a lot of their videos can educate hearies, that’s not their main purpose. Deafies in Drag aims to create an inclusive atmosphere for every audience member. Even if not everyone in the deaf community can enjoy the music lip-syncs performances, they can now follow along with sign language or interpret the over-the-top performative nature of queens dancing.
The most important benefit of Deafies in Drag is that they allow the deaf community to indulge in the riotous fun of drag.
Anyone who has watched a drag film will know that drag has always been wildly over-the-top – subtlety isn’t exactly a component of this craft. Sign language translates to this over-acting nature perfectly, with the exaggerated body language and facial expressions of sign perfectly in harmony with the overstated makeup and boisterous behaviour of drag. Selena Minogue and Casavina take this to the extreme in their skits, while injecting a healthy dose of telenovela acting for extra flair.
If you are enthralled by high-fashion drag from the likes of Sasha Velour, Naomi Smalls or Valentina then these girls may not be who you’re looking for. However, if you prefer the entertaintment side of drag and the ridiculous and crude comedy it brings, then the Deafies in Drag channel is well worth a follow.
Previously, members of the deaf community have done great work in sharing their perspectives. Vloggers like Jessica Kellgren-Fozard or short-films like Dear Hearing People have been sharing the unheard life of the deaf community on YouTube and raising everyday awareness. These videos are often straightforward informative clips meant purely to educate rather than entertain; Deafies in Drag on the other hand tempt people in with their comedy and weave education in-between the jokes.
The increase of entertainers in the media with hearing impairments are already subverting expectations of what a deaf person can and can’t do and are helping hearing people understand that their limiting stereotypes are completely false. The film industry has finally allowed deaf actors to portray their own experiences on screen, which have brought excellent performances from deaf actors like CJ Jones, in Baby Driver, and the young emerging star, Millicent Simmonds, in A Quiet Place. Perhaps the most surprising talent to blow everyone’s expectations out the water, is deaf singer-songwriter, Mandy Harvey, who charmed audiences with her beautiful voice on America’s Got Talent.
As more deaf people join popular media, the expectations for the deaf community change – as the short-film, Dear Hearing People, says, “We are doctors, lawyers, filmmakers, race car drivers, teachers, inventors, CEOs, chefs, video gamers, musicians, singers, comedians, writers”. Deafies in Drag are here to prove drag queens can be added to that list.
Perhaps we’ll be seeing these girls strutting the Drag Race runway one day soon? Even if that isn’t the case, thank the gay Gods we have their YouTube channel to brighten our days and enlighten our attitudes.
Written by Michaela Barton (@MichaelaBarton_)