Despite the famed passion of drag devotees, signs that it may soon be curtains for International Drag Day are not difficult to find.
All sources agree that the annual commemoration was the brainchild of one Adam Stewart, and that its inaugural celebration was held on July 16, 2009. No one would contend that convincing people to embrace a new holiday is an easy task — least of all when you’ve set the bar sky-high with that ambitious “international” honorific. But Stewart believed in his cause. He teamed up with Australian GLBTI travel and lifestyle brand Guidetogay.com to get the word out, telling them: “International Drag Day is a day where all around the world on every gay scene we take this opportunity to celebrate and thank the drag artists that add so much to gay life and culture.”
He met with some success in the Anglophone world, from the Stonewall Hotel in Sydney, which reportedly hosted a flamboyant kickoff celebration that first summer, to festivities at The Village Inn, in Birmingham, U.K., taking center stage on the holiday’s official social media accounts last year. Recognition in the U.S. was limited in comparison, with the notable exception of Stewart’s guest appearance (so to speak) on Chicago-based LGBTQ podcast Feast of Fun. For any nascent movement to survive and thrive, though, it has to break through a certain barrier. It has to become visible to those who aren’t looking for it.
And that’s how Owain Wyn Evans stole the show. In July 2017, the Welsh BBC 3 presenter decided that his regular Sunday weather report could stand to be a whole lot more festive. This was, after all, International Drag Day. Discontent with the obvious — fulfilling his self-described “weatherman” duties while clad in a stunning evening gown — Evans chose a more creative approach: he stuck to typical male-designated attire and deadpan delivery throughout an elaborately composed segment in which practically every sentence contained some allusion to drag culture. Even more impressive? He left every viewer confident in their understanding of impending meteorological events.
Evans took to Twitter to share video of his peerless presentation, where it quickly racked up thousands of likes and retweets, including a glowing review from none other than RuPaul, reigning queen of queens. To date, the clip has been viewed more than a quarter of a million times. International Drag Day, it seemed, was closer than ever to claiming a place in the wider public consciousness.
Unfortunately for fans of Stewart — who, by the way, has dropped out of sight, his disappearance an ill omen in itself — no one appears to have capitalized on that burst of momentum. Call up International Drag Day’s official website and you’ll think you’ve arrived at a home page that leads somewhere, but you haven’t, because it doesn’t. None of its social media pages have been updated for months, in most cases since last year or even earlier. Even its promotional images refer to International Drag Day 2017. Should you decide to abandon the anonymous holiday bosses and search for upcoming celebrations on your own, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve mistakenly taken on one of the labors of Hercules. In short, by all indications, practically nobody is doing anything to mark this occasion. (Full disclosure: I did learn about one 2018 Drag Day party. It’s in Thailand, if any of qnotes’ readers happen to be in the neighborhood.) By far the most prominent stateside celebration of all things drag remains the Austin International Drag Festival in November.
It was a promising idea, and hope isn’t lost quite yet. But unless somebody steps up to lead the charge, and soon, the stage lights will dim permanently on the experiment that was International Drag Day. : :