Drag Syndrome is a group of drag performers that have Down syndrome, two things you may not have ever thought to put together. But someone thought to put them together and the group is touring Europe and scheduled to perform at RuPaul’s DragCon UK 2023. They’re slogan in a new film is: “Born to dance with an extra chromosome.”
Is this empowering or exploitative? Read the comments on this Mashable post about the group to see how others feel about it.
For me, it rings of circus acts from the 1920s whereby people with disabilities were made to perform for crowds. How can we possibly know that this is a true self expression for people with disabilities? Down syndrome particularly is associated with cognitive impairment, according to the Mayo Clinic. So do these performers understand the suggestive nature of the dances they are doing or are they being taught this by someone? Is this how we treat people with disabilities in a dignified way?
This group has been drawing criticism for some time. In 2019, a Michigan venue canceled a scheduled performance, citing concerns about “exploitation.”