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To be a drag queen in Kansas City is to be fierce, fearless and 'part of something bigger'

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Heather Fellas-Stanwyck is a Kansas City-based drag queen recently named Miss Gay Kansas United States 2023. She has been performing for two years.
Evening Star Photograph
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Courtesy of Heather Fellas-Stanwyck
Heather Fellas-Stanwyck is a Kansas City-based drag queen recently named Miss Gay Kansas United States 2023. She has been performing for two years.

Politicians in Missouri and Kansas have concentrated attacks on a variety of LGBTQ+ issues this year, including restrictions on drag performances. But queens in Kansas City are still determined to spread joy, love and acceptance.

Drag performers in Missouri, Kansas and beyond have come under fire over the last year from conservative activists and Republican politicians, who claim that the age-old art form is inappropriate or obscene.

But the drag scene in Kansas City has been thriving since the 1960s, according to Tajma Stetson, a Kansas City queen who's been performing for 17 years.

"It's important to me to be a part of that history," Stetson said.

Drag is an exaggeration of gender, something that can be therapeutic and self-assuring for performers.

EV, a Kansas City drag queen, has been performing in the Kansas City scene for six years, since she was 16.

"If I walk into a room as myself, out of drag, people will they might think I'm confident," said EV. "But in drag, if I walk into a room, I'm seen as powerful... I'm seen as like something that's like, 'whoa.'"

That empowerment that drag performers experience can also extend to their audiences — especially in smaller towns, according toHeather Fellas-Stanwyck.

Stanwyck is currently serving as Miss Gay Kansas United States 2023.

"I've met so many people that will come up to me after a show and say, 'Please keep doing what you're doing,'" said Stanwyck.

  • Tajma Stetson, Kansas City drag queen and Miss Gay Missouri America 2022
  • Heather Fellas-Stanwyck, Kansas City drag queen and Miss Gay Kansas United States 2023
  • EV, Kansas City drag queen and winner of "Drag Survivor KC Season 1"
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