Drag chosen family
Trigger warning: discussing subjects of
warning: Adult content
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Lu Brique
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November 17, 2022
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We asked a drag king what chosen family meant to him

End-of-the-year celebrations are approaching, and with it, questions and preparations come one after another. For some the answers are crystal clear: those celebrations will take place with the people they hold dear, their chosen family.

But beyond this word so often used in our communities, what is there? What is a chosen family, far from its most common definition, and how it incarnates in every aspect of our life?

To answer those questions we hold dear, we wanted to look into a world where families take a central part, but past its first interpretations: drag families. And for that, we had the chance to sit with emerging French Drag King Lu Brique, who opened up about the names, emotions, and memories that "chosen family" lights up.

Lu Brique started drag a little less than a year ago, but the change has been radical. Before, he explained, he was surrounded by long-time friends, mostly straight and cis, with whom he didn’t necessarily feel comfortable. As he was discovering his gender identity, he needed more and more to educate them, in a process that became increasingly exhausting. All of this changed once he started drag.

By a real turn of events, Lu Brique met with drag king Scarface while carpooling to a pride march in a southern French city. This meeting found all its meaning once Lu Brique attended a drag show with his friends at a time he was not doing well. Pushed by his friends and a transcending performance he saw that day, he decided to start drag. A couple of weeks later, he was performing at an event Scarface (Max) was hosting, in a place that later became significant: the café Rosa, a queer and feminist cultural place based in Lyon, France. This first performance and the place in itself evoked clear notions of family: through the art of drag, an art of community, an art of proximity.

Starting drag was a revelation and the start of a change in his surroundings. Lu Brique detached himself from his former friends and met people that accepted him with kindness and indulgence. They were people he could relate to, queer and neuroatypical, which removed so much guilt coming from the incomprehension and judgment of those he once was friends with.

As he started performing, Lu Brique met with lots of new people, raising the question of the nature of the relationships you build in the field, a strange status between colleagues and friends. It’s only when he started to see others outside of shows that the bond became clearer. As time went by, a group formed, later materialized by a collective he founded with Max: the Maxiqueers.

Working with friends is no easy thing, and that’s how it somewhat steers into a real feeling of family: A family where you have to communicate, even on unpleasant things. Where sometimes, conflicts arise, but communication is at its heart. In the end, everyone takes care of the other and helps each other’s, whether it is emotionally through support or professionally through constructive criticism.

Drag is hardly a bed of roses and finding his chosen family in the field was revealing for Lu Brique. Due to precarity, there is a lot of competition, and some people want success despite it being at the expense of others. The drag scene is fragmented, each collective evolving in its own places as microcosms. The values inherent to drag are too often forgotten. Drag families are the first step towards a more collective approach, a means of discussing shared problems, and a means of solidarity.

If Lu Brique is lucky to have a supportive mother and sister, it’s far from being a collective case in the field. To help with that, this year, Lu Brique and his friends are organizing a Secret Santa and throwing a Christmas party together. That’s also where chosen family takes all its meaning: In the reappropriation of holidays like Christmas that many queer individuals have grown to hate.

All in all, finding his chosen family helped Lu Brique to learn how healthy relationships are created and maintained. It means re-learning how to communicate, knowing and affirming your boundaries, but also accepting that finding it won’t solve all your problems.

“Having a family doesn't mean you're getting better, especially when you're just a bunch of losers. Just because you're well-surrounded doesn't mean you're fine. But at least you're not alone. Before, when I felt lonely, it was because I truly was. There was no understanding of how I felt. Now, even if there is no understanding, people are truly there for me.”

Huge thanks to Lu Brique for opening up to us on such a subject. Go check their Instagram and collective to support local drag scenes!


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