#BlackDragMagic - A collaborative project created by Lee-Ann Olwage and drag artist and activist Belinda Qaqamba Kafassie.
The project #BlackDragMagic tells the stories of black queer, gender-nonconforming, and trans people who grew up in the townships of Cape Town, where they have to navigate their daily lives. In reality, the township is also a space where they are subjected to harassment, violence, and discrimination on a daily basis.
The process of creating the project became a radical and progressive act of activism to reclaim the township and to stand up against the overwhelming climate of discrimination black queer individuals face in the township.
The project was created to serve as a platform of expression for black queer individuals where they were invited to co-create images they felt told their stories in a way that is affirming and celebratory.
The setting was chosen to showcase and celebrate the lesser-known township drag scene that exists in Cape Town. The art form of drag has been westernized and South African drag queens have often assimilated to these western standards of drag. There is therefore a need to celebrate and embrace African drag as an art form that tells stories about Africans in Africa, the African way. It is an act of decolonizing drag.
The project also explores the role cultural identity plays in black queer identity and addresses the ways in which it is problematic. It is impossible to separate Xhosa and queer identity from one another. To erase a significant part of someone’s identity is to invalidate their full existence. This is problematic because it somehow gives muscle to the erroneous idea of homosexuality being perceived as ‘unAfrican.’