Home Kent News The ‘grungey punk’ drag queen bringing stylish rebellion to Folkestone Pride

The ‘grungey punk’ drag queen bringing stylish rebellion to Folkestone Pride

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Original article from Kent Live

More and more, Drag has become a central part of Pride celebrations, as the community has become one of the most attention-grabbing parts of the queer community.

It makes sense, then, that as part of Folkestone's pride celebrations this month, that one of Kent's most attention-grabbing drag queens has been announced as a top performer – and Chai isn't messing around.

Chai was born at an afterparty, when her creator – Elric Stockley – was put in drag by a friend.

Read more: The real history of 2000s homophobia in Kent and the fight for LGBTQ+ equality

Reminiscing about that first moment in drag, they recalled their thought process: "I was like, 'Oh my God, what is this, I feel alive,' – I was swanning about, drinking a chai latte, and that's where Chai came from."

"To me, drag is grunge-y, it's punk"


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Chai wouldn't appear again until a few years later, in 2017, though she's not herself a Kent native.

Elric was born and raised in Cheltenham, moving to London in the 2010s, and finding themselves in West Malling when the pandemic hit.

Though Chai has hardly properly performed in Kent, she's no novice to drag, having started performing in 2017, and becoming part of the house of Charity Kase – an innovative and subversive queen based in London.

For those of you that don't know how drag families or houses work, this is tradition is based around a sense of kinship in queer communities and the common experience of having a chosen family.

A drag mother is a simple extension of this into performance, being a more experienced queen that helps hone a younger queen's skills, be that makeup, performance or general style.

Speaking about her drag family, Chai said: "I was in London and I started off doing drag of my own volition.

"It wasn't until, say, two years into my track career where Charity, took me under her wing and especially in like the last year we've become much closer.

Chai (left) with her drag sister Kyran Thrax (right), drag mother Charity Kase (bottom), and Dylan (centre)

"I've known Charity since 2014 – and our paths always crossed – and she, you know, she gives me opportunities or she refers me to people… but for the most part we in this family, we kind of like, help each other out."

Within Chai's drag family, there's a huge amount of diversity, but Chai is a standout in her own right.

"We're our own independent queens – we have our own careers, our own paths, and ideas of what we want from drag.

"It makes us more powerful – if that makes sense – and more empowered by drag, because there's so many different types of drag within just one family!"

Punkish, she blends fashion with a gritty, nostalgic rawness that stems from her love of pop punk – think Green Day, Paramore or songs like Teenage Dirtbag.

It makes sense then, that if you turn up to a Chai show, you'll be getting that energetic, in-your-face music that so many have fond memories of the early 2000s, and that is core to Chai's drag.

"For me personally, it's my original lyrics and my songwriting; it's performing on stage, taking pop punk from the noughties and switching them up with my own verses – and then feeling the crowd really get in with me on the choruses."

There's a real passion there – not just for the music Chai's talking about in that moment, but clearly for how meaningful the act of getting up on stage and performing is for her – and it's something she wants to make her own.

She continued: "Drag to me is camp, it's fun, but it's also grungy, it's punk…. it's what I'll be doing at pride this year, and yeah, I'm so excited."

Though a newcomer to Kent, Chai's clearly ready to get involved with Kent's queer communities, saying: "The queens down here are actually so lovely – I can't wait to just get out and get into the queer community – it's so vibrant, and I really don't think there's enough of a spotlight on that community."

For Chai, this chance to perform at Folkestone Pride was more than just about getting her drag career kicking again – but a vital moment of reconnecting with a community that has been so separated by the pandemic.

"Virtual pride took a toll on me last year – I had fun making it, but I couldn't enjoy it with the people I wanted to enjoy it with – because I was sharing it through a screen.

"You don't have that emotional connection with people – I need to feel the crowd – and Folkestone Pride has been super super great, they were totally on board."

Though Chai's drag is refined and edgy, the most important thing to ring home about her in conversation was her message of inclusion.

Chai's drag isn't just about beauty or glamour, but bringing something altogether more unsettling and innovative to her art.

"For me, the possibilities of drag are limitless – every type of drag, and all types of drag are valid.

"[When you put on a drag show], you have the responsibility and the platform to uplift other members of the community – the comedy, the drag kings, the people like me who do independent music."

In many ways, Chai's ethos embodies the spirit of pride.

With a message of inclusion, celebration, and fighting for a community whose rights have been – and will continue to be – hard-fought for, the rebellion of Chai's punk affectations, and the inclusiveness of her voice and platform is exactly what Pride is all about.

Original Article