The Drag collective fighting for a queer, independent Wales

The Drag collective fighting for a queer, independent Wales

Photographer Megan Winstone captures Cŵm Rag amid a banner year, from climbing Yr Wyddfa in aid of Trans Aid Cymru to selling out Wales Millennium Centre.

The Welsh word ‘Cŵm’ is pronounced exactly how you fear it might be. It means valley, the landform perhaps most associated with the country. It’s within Wales’ famous Valleys that you can find a perfect example of the complexities and contradictions encased within the small nation. Amongst breathtaking natural beauty, there are pockets of deprivation; communities hung out to dry amongst the bucolic peaks and dips of the scars left by ancient glaciers.

It’s this area, and all the history, the struggle, the beauty and the pain wrapped up within it that gives its name to Cŵm Rag – a drag collective of Welsh queer people, who all left Wales and moved to London. After performing for years across East London at venues like Dalston Superstore and The Glory, the collective took to Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), climbing the country’s highest peak in drag for Trans Aid Cymru.

Filmed for S4C, the homecoming saw the collective explore the realities of growing up queer in Wales, reflecting on leaving, and the communities that they’ve formed. Following an appearance on SC4’s Gogglebox, they took their show home to Cardiff with a sold-out performance at the Wales Millennium Centre in March. Photographer Megan Winstone was there to document the chaotic atmosphere backstage.

“From the Daughters of Rebecca, to us now, drag is political and has been used as a tool in Wales to disrupt, empower and revolutionise. I want to use our drag to dream, and create a vision of a Trans celebratory, tropical, independent Cymru.”
“Growing up in Wales, there was no visible representation of queer life, just sculpted rugby bodies and 'Siarad Cymraeg' being shouted in my face by schoolteachers. To see the drag community growing in Wales is fab and getting to perform in my motherland at the Welsh Millennium Centre with my girls was something quite special.”
“To confront the pressing issues of our time (climate crisis - hello!) we need to radically restructure society. Drag at its queer best, calls into question the norms underpinning the capitalist system. Down with the patriarchy, cariad!”
Oberon White
"I hope that the baby queers in rural West Wales see me stomping round in some crusty wig and some PVC on a stage somewhere and think, ‘fuck yeah I can do whatever I want.'"
Lasagna Sheets
“When we are on stage in Drag, we are standing with those in our community, both past and present, to demand our collective place within, forging a path to an independent Cymru that not only includes us but listens to the power of our voices. Cos yanno, there’s a reason why there’s a Drag on our flag babes.”

Cŵm Rag are returning to the Wales Millennium Centre on 22nd July.

Find more of Megan's work on Instagram.

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