‘Still (Mighty) Real’: HIV and AIDS, Queer Public Memories, and the Intergenerational Drag Hail
This essay explores drag as a strategy of both performative and temporal transitivity in the staging of queer public memories relating to the history of HIV and AIDS in the Americas. I focus on two drag/performance couples whose embodied engagements with past losses to the AIDS pandemic are registered not just through the citational labour of the drag performer but also through the theatrical incitement of the audience toward a kind of queer political (re)call. Applying the concept of an intergenerational drag hail to an examination of Montreal-based 2boys.tv’s Tightrope and Vancouver-based Zee Zee Theatre’s Tucked and Plucked, I discuss how both works channel an historical archive of grief and loss around AIDS that simultaneously becomes a future-oriented act of repertory remembrance.
Deep gratitude to Stephen Lawson, Aaron Pollard, Alexis O’Hara, Dave Deveau and Cameron Mackenzie for the work and for talking with me about it. Thanks, as well, to T.L. Cowan for the video documentation of Tightrope.
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