While the rest of her class created school projects about foreign countries, famous footballers or popstars, 11 year-old Callie Murphy-Dunne took a slightly different tack. The precocious pre-teen from Ballyfermot based her school project on the history of drag queens.
For those who believe drag begins and ends with RuPaul’s Drag Race (although some of those queens do feature), Callie’s knowledge would put them to shame, with her school project going all the way back to the 1800’s.
So what inspired the mini clever clogs to pick this particular subject? “I love drag queens because they radiant confidence”, Callie shared. “I also love the fashion and the dramatic-ness and the makeup.”
Her school project, impressively, isn’t just about glamour and turning looks. Callie explained, “I also researched the Stonewall Inn and the riots there. Most queens had to go to gay bars. On June 28th in 1969, the police invaded the bar and people had had it by then. One lady, Marsha P Johnson, put her heel down and everybody decided to fight back.”
Alongside sections on acceptance and the struggles in Ireland for marriage equality (yes, really!), what other queens can folk who read her project expect to find out about? “Lady Bunny, and a drag queen called Divine who actually inspired Ursula from The Little Mermaid,” Callie shared.
In any summation of drag history, Drag Race would have to feature, so who are Callie’s top contestants? “My three favourite queens of all the seasons would probably be Miss Vanjie, Latrice Royale and Alyssa Edwards. Latrice Royale shared a good message and she was a good queen. She went to prison in the past but she showed it doesn’t matter what happened in the past, it’s the future that you make.”
As Callie’s project includes a section on drag terminology, does she ever use some quotes in her everyday life? “On the odd occasion I do. I also use some of RuPaul’s quotes. If I ever get talking about drag queens or Pride or the LGBT+ community, I say – ‘If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else, can I get an amen up in here?’ And then I sit around and wait for somebody to say ‘Amen’.”
Her project, which is for English class, isn’t due until later in the year, but early feedback from her teachers has been very positive. How did her classmates react? “The reaction to my project was shock since children my age aren’t usually into drag queens. Some of the other kids in the class didn’t even know what drag queens were but they thought it was good when I explained.”
It should also be noted Callie created all the artwork for her project. Looks like this multi-talented junior ally will go far.