June is Pride Month!
Drag queens, artists and Milwaukee natives Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus recently sat down with WTMJ’s Erik Bilstad to share their story.
Listen in the player above.
A portion of the conversation was transcribed below, courtesy of eCourt Reporters, Inc.
ERIK BILSTAD: Oftentimes we’ll hear about different hot-button issues in the news, society, and whatnot, you know, in Florida, you know, one of the conversations recently is don’t say gay, you know, a bill that’s being discussed in Florida. Trans has got a lot of conversation lately. The pronoun situation that some people can understand, and some people can’t. What do you say to those who question behavior, interests, likes, etcetera?
DEVIN ANTHEUS: I mean, as someone of just generally questionable taste, I think that if someone isn’t taking issue with what I’m doing or how I’m living, then I’m probably living a pretty boring existence.
HARRY JAMES HANSON: I’ll second that, yeah. And I would say mind your business. You know, I think that a lot of that, the backlash that we’re seeing in Florida, this controversy over trans people using bathrooms and playing sports, you know, that kind of legislative attack is happening because of the advances that we’re making in society for acceptance, for — to allow trans kids and trans people to thrive. So, you know, the backlash is scary, but it’s because — they have to fight us because we’re winning, basically.
ERIK BILSTAD: What advice would you give to someone who’s younger who clearly wants to do something different, clearly wants to perhaps dress in drag and become a queen? What advice would you give?
HARRY JAMES HANSON: I would say if this life choses you, don’t hold back and don’t be afraid of judgment. People are going to judge you and you will judge other people. No one’s perfect, judgment happens, but it’s not important. If you focus on who you are and you do what you love, then, you know, you just keep moving.
DEVIN ANTHEUS: Yeah, I mean, I think that — I’m definitely my own harshest critic. And I think that that’s true for a lot of people and that, honestly, there’s really nothing that someone could say about my work or about me as a person that, like, I haven’t already kind of like thought or worked through on some level. And so, I think the power that I see a lot of drag performers be able to manifest comes through their relationship with the mirror, right, that they can, like, sit in the mirror and decide who they want to be every single day, right. And that, like — I agree with Harry that we shouldn’t shy away from, you know, who we are, but I also think that that’s something that changes and is in flux. And what I’ve seen from a lot of lifelong drag performers is that they have a pretty fluid ongoing and, like, dynamic relationship with themselves and who they are, who they understand themselves to be. And I think that there’s a power that’s unlocked by dressing in drag. Like, if you see someone who is — even if you’re just in the context of a dive bar, right, and it’s just, you know, a local legend sitting and singing a song or lip syncing, like, there’s a type of power that people are able to command by masking, by painting, by getting dressed.
And I just — yeah, I would encourage people, too, if it’s something you want to get into, like, find that power in yourself, right.
Like, stare in the mirror until you see your own starriness and let that kind of connection to your own source be the thing that fuels you.
HARRY JAMES HANSON: Absolutely. I think that really hits the nail on the head. And, yeah, when you’re — when you’re focused on channeling that power, nothing can stop you.