PSA: Drag is not a crime.
While we have seen progress in terms of wider acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community, it is clear that the Philippines has a long way to go before we reach the point where the community is free from persecution of their livelihoods and beliefs. Case in point, drag artist Pura Luka Vega’s criminal case regarding their Ama Namin performance while dressed as Jesus earlier this year. While drag was, is, and will always be art, what is happening to Pura Luka Vega is a sign that tolerance only reaches a certain point. Sadly, Pura’s case entered a sad new chapter on a day that was supposed to celebrate Pinoy drag.
On October 4, the day of the Drag Race Philippines season two finale that crowned the franchise’s first trans queen, Pura Luka Vega was arrested by un-uniformed policemen from the Manila Police District as ordered by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 36. That is for supposedly failing to attend the preliminary investigations of the criminal case even though no subpoena was received by Pura or their team for the preliminary investigation in Manila. Bail was set at 72,000 pesos. And this is on top of the multiple municipalities that have declared them persona non grata for *checks notes* performing a remix of Ama Namin as Jesus.
HOW TO HELP PURA LUKA VEGA
If you want to help Pura during their time of need, you can donate money to their bail fund through the following avenues below.
Also, aside from donating to their bail fund, you can also support Pura by being there for them as they go through their legal battles. Let them know that they are not alone and stand in solidarity with them.
It goes without saying that drag is not a crime and is inherently political. The art form has always been a platform for artists to express their beliefs and ideas. And while some may take offense to what they do, or the very existence of drag artists, that’s their problem, not the queens’. What Pura did was express their faith through their lens.
You’d think this energy against Pura was because they murdered people, stole millions of public funds, or have hundreds of millions in unexplained confidential funds, but no. What’s happening to Pura Luka Vega is that they’re being targeted in a society that is still sadly beholden to conservative and religious beliefs. Religion should never be the standard for justice. We have separation of church and state for a reason.
DRAG IS AN ART FORM, NOT A CRIME
DRAG IS NOT A CRIME! FREE PURA LUKA VEGA! pic.twitter.com/9JILK27Aqp— rod singh (@iamrodafrog) October 4, 2023
It’s frustrating and disappointing, but also a scary reminder of how drag can get criminalized by the powers that be when they step over a line they think is offensive. It’s frankly concerning to see Pura’s legal issues, along with recent incidents involving Vice Ganda and Ion Perez’s icing issue on It’s Showtime, as members of the LGBTQIA+ community get seemingly villainized by the system. For every step forward we take in terms of proper respect and treatment of the community, some want to take the country two steps back.
It sets a sad precedent that drag, whether it be in the Philippines or other countries, continues to be criminalized. And if they can go after Pura, there’s no stopping them from coming for others who they feel offended them. As drag continues to reach bigger platforms in Philippine culture, it’s important that we stand with drag artists, support their art, and challenge bigoted views. Now more than ever should drag queens, and the community in general, be supported against a system that still tries to take them down. Once again, drag is not a crime and it deserves to be celebrated for the beacon of self-expression that it is.
Continue Reading: So, After Pride Month, How Do You Really Support The LGBTQIA+ Community?