A 14-year-old U.K. boy, Lewis Bailey, learned less than one day before he planned to perform a drag act for a talent show at Castle High School and Visual Arts College that his act would be banned from the show for being “age-inappropriate.”
According to Metro News, the school claimed that it is illegal in the West Midlands of the U.K. for persons under the age of 18 to perform drag acts. Lewis, and his mother Natalie, 37, believe the school is making up the law to justify their own bigotry.
They claim it’s because it is illegal — but I think the real reason is they don’t accept me for who I am. I’m heartbroken and confused. After all the effort I have put into it, it has knocked my confidence a lot.
And his mom Natalie said:
I think the school are being judgemental, There’s no law over impersonating a female and doing a dance. We can’t find anything anywhere that says that, and anyway it’s a school talent show, not a competition. The school is very multicultural and I think the school think some of the parents won’t like it.
Lewis’s routine, which he’d been practicing for three weeks, was to include a mix of music made by his stepfather, Dale Griffiths. Lewis came out as gay to his mother and stepfather just last year at age 13. His mother recalls that before finding drag, he was a very withdrawn boy, and his new creative outlet has helped him come out of his shell.
Not to be silenced, drag Twitter is making sure he feels supported.
— Lindsey Toon (@Linni_t_mm) July 22, 2018
@RuPaul @RuPaulsDragRace look at this. Someone inspired by you is being stopped doing what they love because of some idiot school. Someone find this boys twitter (He’s called Lewis Bailey) pic.twitter.com/z5KsUnwqq8
— Em (@_em_cole_) July 23, 2018
Oh hell no!
This is so sad. I feel for this fabulous young queen. His school should hang their head in shame for denying this young person his right to express who he is through performance.
Lewis Bailey has my full support. xxxhttps://t.co/lVQKFSymmr
— Sassi Afrika (@SassiAfrika) July 23, 2018
— Ruth Miller (@queenpuzzle) July 23, 2018
He’s been invited to DragWorldUK to perform as Athena Heart, and offered a few other gigs on the side.
— Crystal Lubrikunt (@CrystaLubrikunt) July 22, 2018
We can officially announce Athena Heart (Lewis David Bailey), will be slaying the stage in BIRMINGHAM on the 8th of August at the 10’s Across The Board @O2InstituteBham Give her a follow on Twitter @Athena99105583 #dragisnotillegal pic.twitter.com/jyYN9EAzsl
— Holy Trannity (@holy_trannity) July 22, 2018
— The Neon Banshee (@NeonBanshee) July 22, 2018
— DragWorld (@DragWorldUK) July 24, 2018
— Mar (@MariahBailey99) July 23, 2018
Don’t mess with a boy in a dress.
The school’s principal, Michelle King, said:
Castle is an inclusive school that celebrates diversity. With regard to the performance of our student Lewis Bailey at the end-of-term talent show; we made the decision that it was not age appropriate for either the learner and for the intended audience, his peer group, for Lewis to appear as a ‘drag act’.
We understood Lewis wanted to appear in the style of Ru Paul, whose style of performance is characterised by strong language and sexual innuendo. This decision was made one day before the planned show, when the full nature of his performance was made known. We respect the long tradition of female impersonation in theatre, however to appear as a drag queen, goes beyond this.
His mother refuted this claim:
His act for the talent show was dressing as a lady and dancing. There is no swearing, no raunchy behaviour, nothing over the top. It’s just him dressing as a female doing a dance.
The issue being put on blast is the first step in the school making a change in the future. Let’s keep having these conversations so one day nobody will bat a false eyelash at a drag act in a talent show.