This past weekend I went to New York City with a dear dancing friend of mine. We were kid and fancy free. We wandered our way around with plans to take in a couple shows. We went to a matinee of Mama Mia which was alright but seemed a bit flat, off day for the cast I guess. Wicked was next on our most wanted to see list but the only tickets available were 300 dollars or more. So we decided that Priscilla Queen of the Desert might be interesting and a few random friends (read strangers we spontaneously engaged in conversation) said it was a riot.
Well a riot it was indeed! The song and dance filled story of three drag queens traveling through Australia so that one of them can finally meet his son was wild and playful, visually stunning with 600 costume changes that were each more dazzling and outrageous than the last. I smiled and laughed, and sat awestruck with delicious joy for all but the few scenes that reminded the audience of the reality of intolerance and hate that many people in this world would have experienced in place of the sheer unadulterated blast of happiness that we in that theatre shared.
The show reminded me of the year I spent studying in Spain during college. I lived with a French guy named Gilles who was very openly gay. We had so much fun that year and one of our favorite things to do on the weekend was to go to the drag shows. I was nervous the first time we went that I would be the one to experience exclusion, staring eyes telling me that I had no business being there, but when we walked in not a single eyelash was batted, I was just another party goer. As we watched the show I remember having that same feeling of exhilaration, adoration and delight. Eventually we got to know some of the performers and I loved talking and laughing with them. I was young and insecure and they would always talk about going for it in life, being who you are and making no apologies for that. These were some of the wisest women I have encountered and anatomy had nothing to do with it.
These past few days I have found myself thinking about what I felt while watching Priscilla Queen of the Desert and what I have learned from drag queens. Here is what came to me.
~ song and dance are powerful forces that bring people together
~ everyone could use more sparkle in their life
~ who you are on the inside always trumps what you look like on the outside
~ life is best experienced with a slathering of laughter and a dollop of irreverence
~ when confronted by fear or dark forces diva walk right through them
~ it is also OK to be afraid, to be vulnerable, to cry
~ know who your true and loyal friends are and love them big time
~ sensuality and sexuality are part of this human experience and should carry no shame, guilt, or judgment for anyone, gay, straight, bisexual or transgender
~ don't give in to hate and don't let other people's hate infect you (don't hate the haters)
~ be who you are and make no apologies
and last but most important:
WE ARE FAMILY!!