ERASMUS+ YOUTH (KA3) - Elena Rodríguez is one of the youngsters selected by the European project Erasmus+ KA3 Youth at the Frontlines of Change: A Roadmap towards a collective "South-North-East-West" European Momentum. Elena submitted a local project proposal that has been selected to receive one thousand euros, in addition to the necessary training, to implement local workshops on dragtivism. In this article she explains the proposal in depth.
My project consists in carrying out a Drag King Workshop in Hospitalet de Llobregat, to open up a space for collective reflection on gender in society in a safe space where the participants will feel independently empowered by their sexual orientation and gender through drag.
Elena is 27 years old, they dedicate themselves to philosophy, performance art and artistic direction. They grew up in a fishing village on the coast of Málaga, where they affirm that they had first hand experience of having to live alongside a society that was as much misogynistic as homphobic. At only 17 years old, they abandonded their village to study philisophy commiting an act of faith, in search of a better world, which they didn't yet know or have any idea about, but that, they tell us, they were convinced that it must exist out there somewhere, and that they had to go out there to find it.
So, after many twists and turns, in 2015 they arrive in the city of Barcelona where they find welcoming spaces for the first time in the feminist movements and queer scene in the city. Progressively, their personal life and their philosophical work start becoming aligned, until they discover the Drag King scene, and they realise that through this art form they can, on the one hand, express and investigate their gender indentity, empowering themselves, and on the other hand, develop philosophical ideas about the body and the mind.
In addition, given the invisibility of this art form in modern day society, their practice supposes a form of activism as well as an empowerment for the “tomboy” bodies to everyuthing related to “female masculinity”. This then becomes their life goal, and they work with more drag kings in Barcelona to develop a scene and make this art form known, making it accessible for people who can find the same freedom and empowerment in it that they found.
A short interview with Elena Rodríguez
Who are you and what is you occupation?
My name is Elena Ramírez, I’m 27 and I was born in a coastal village near Malaga, but I currently live in Barcelona. I work on applied philosophy through performance, aspiring to create spaces for social communication that nourish mutual understanding, help the empowerment of minorities (in my case, the ‘lesbian’ collective), and mediates in society in order to build a collective philosophical thought concerning the same.
Explain your project to us
My project consists in creating a drag king workshop, geared towards any person regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. It is a drag king workshop because inside drag practice, it is still invisible and their isn't any places where you can go to carry them out at the moment. I think it is important that there are places because,even though drag practice is valid for everyone, it is the “masculine women” or called “tomboys” those who like me, find our own unique way of empowering ourselves through the drag king scene.
What is the goal of the workshop?
The goal is twofold: on the one hand, to provide tools to learn to transform into a drag king, empowering the participants through this learning process; and specially, as already mentioned, the lesbian collective. On the other hand, it pursues a more general or global goal: creating a space of collective reflection about gender and power in society.
Who is it geared towards?
To any person regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. Nonetheless, as I said earlier, the biggest impact is on the lesbian community, since it is a community that is still invisible and needs to develop its own pride, and I feel the importance of contributing to create these spaces.
What impact do you think it will have?
Apart from that of the lesbian community mentioned above, since empowering lesbian women means generating a transformation that they can then reproduce and multiply in their own lives and environment; it also has a global impact, since it opens up a space for social dialogue and strengthens the capacity for self-transformation of society in general.
The reality of women with ‘homosexual’ sexual orientation can, I believe, expand the general thinking about sex, gender and power relations in society. It is not necessary to be a lesbian in order to include this reality in the general vision that an individual has of society and the power relations that are found on it, and I think this inclusion generates a very much needed transformation in collective thinking.
Anything you want to add?
This workshop sets out to be a starting point for new structures of support networks for the lesbian community in Barcelona, where more long term activites can be set up, such as: organising more workshops, information sessions and festivals.
Furthermore, it can serve as a point of contact for all ‘lesbian’ realities in Barcelona that are related to the drag king scene which have previously taken place in the city, of which I have personal knowledge of but were never correctly recorded. It seeks to solidify lesbian culture in Barcelona, give it visibility and properly represent it.
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