Learning about Drag in New Brunswick (Grade 6)

When you walk around downtown Fredericton, Saint John, or Moncton it’s easy to notice different forms of art everywhere you go: from paintings to sculptures to performances. Today, we’re going to talk about a particular kind of performance called Drag.

Drag has been around a long time. In the 1800s, the term “in drag” usually referred men who were dressing up in feminine clothing and taking on the behaviors associated with women at the time. Drag Queens are usually—but not always—cisgender men and or trans or non-binary people who get “into drag” and perform exaggerated versions of femininity. Drag Kings are usually—but not always—cisgender women and or trans or non-binary people who perform exaggerated versions of masculinity. Did you know that Fredericton is home to many local drag queens and kings who perform regularly?

Have you ever heard the terms “fierce” or “shade” or “yaaass queen”? These phrases were born in the New York Ballroom scene in the 1980s. Ballrooms were important spaces for trans and queer people of colour—particularly Black and Latinx people—who would often perform in themed competitions. Performers would walk, dance, pose, and vogue in response to categories. Ballrooms were also a place where drag performers would build community, organize politically, and hold space for one another. It is very important to remember that the drag we know today in New Brunswick has been inspired by drag’s roots in Black, Latinx, and communities of colour.

This cellphilm was created for use in the Grade 6 Social Studies classroom in New Brunswick, and seeks to address the specific curriculum outcomes:

An introduction to culture

o 6.1.1 Explore the concept of culture and demonstrate an understanding of its role in their lives;

Expressions of culture

o 6.4.1 Analyse how the arts reflects beliefs and values in a selected cultural region