When Toronto-based drag queen Miss Moço appears at the PlayDate Pride event (with food and drink included with your ticket) on June 27, she’ll be hitting the stage with other reigning stars such as Jada Hudson, Kiara, Juice Boxx, Steak and Manny Dingo; the event will be hosted by Tiffany Boxx.
For these fierce faces, the socially-distanced outdoor show won’t simply be another item in a joyful, educational and healing schedule of festivities — it will be a comeback after the thick of COVID-19 in much of Canada, a time during which many drag artists were only able to perform virtually for fans.
“The thing I miss most is 100 percent being with my friends and community,” Miss Moço says of the “magical” feelings of revelry during Prides past. “Since [the] month has become a bigger deal, [I would] be together with them every week!”
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Miss Moço, who also hosted a regular drag brunch at The Gladstone Hotel in the before times (and is looking forward to co-hosting an event at Stackt Market with Jada Hudson on Tuesdays throughout the summer), started doing online shows when the pandemic began. Her last was during the final weekend of Pride 2020. “There were hopes we were going to be out of it all soon,” she says of that time period of confusion and perhaps naïve optimism, when she figured virtual drag was in its denouement as a common practice.
A year later, though, she and others are looking at what events are currently happening with interest and elation. “It’s a little more exciting this year because we’ve had time to figure things out, and there are a lot of interesting events to partake in,” Miss Moço notes of the diversity in Pride offerings from online dance parties to bingo to informative seminars.
She says she’s looking forward to the upcoming Drag Ball on June 26. “Boa is hosting,” she says about the Canada’s Drag Race contestant with admiration. “I enjoy seeing how other people put together absolutely incredible videos by themselves at home.” And does Miss Moço don a drag look while acting as a spectator?
“If I’m not going to be on screen then no, unless I’m in drag already,” she says. “But if I’ll be engaging with people and be seen, then I definitely will. It’s fun and shows your support.” She adds, however, that despite the fact that doing an entire drag look has a “huge amount of effort that goes into it, it’s easy to put on a pair of heels, no matter what. That’s something I’m working on getting into the feeling of, because when I go on stage I want to make sure I’m stretched and ready!”
Beyond the intense glam routines that one’s sure to catch the final result of during Pride, Miss Moço says there’s a video series that shines a light on a variety of identity- and appearance-focused topics worth taking note of. “There’s the Beauty in our History talks,” says Miss Moço of what programming she’s been keen to tune into this month. The series is available on the Pride Toronto YouTube channel, the most recent instalment featuring hair expert Safiya and her presentation about the history of Locs, as well tips for how to care for them.
Miss Moço says the inclusion of such content speaks to how the world — and Pride itself — is continually evolving in effort, attention and strength. “These are chances to open ourselves up to learn about things we haven’t had much exposure to,” she says, adding that the overwhelming amount of conversation around accessibility, inclusivity, and the meaning of Pride shows that there are so many important perspectives and voices to consider when celebrating and remembering.
“There are issues that need to remain at the top of our minds and continue to be exposed,” Miss Moço notes. “[Something] can’t just be a hot topic moment that fades away. It’s been a year of learning and growing.”
Speaking of both of these concepts, Miss Moço highlights that she’s been able to instil a feeling of worth, and nurture a mind for business, in the students — and future superstars — who attend a class she teaches through Toronto’s Drag Academy. “It helps them navigate discussions with corporate clients who want to book them for gigs,” she says. “And about understanding how to value their craft. That they can’t just take $100 to perform because that’s what someone offers.”
Here, Miss Moço also mentions having the opportunity to create structural change when performing for local and international corporate companies, and that however possible, she champions the notion that large organizations must support LGBTQ2S+ folks all year round, instead of merely during Pride. “People are blinded to it, and think they’re doing a good thing,” she says. “There’s always room for improvement.” And Miss Moço points to the importance of raising these ideas particularly within companies with global offices, to “spark change. There are countries people in our community still can’t go to because of who we are,” she notes.
Because of this fact, when Miss Moço discusses what Pride means to her, the answer is very matter-of-fact: “I like to celebrate my queerness every single day of the year. But, Pride Month is great to have as a spotlight on us, letting the world know that we’re here.”
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