While promoting an upcoming drag lip sync event, a Windsor drag queen says they recently came face-to-face with hate in the city like they've never experienced before.
Matthew Levesque, whose drag name is Lua, says they were putting up posters in the downtown when a man came up to them and tried lighting a poster on fire.
According to Lua, he then ripped down the poster, crumpled it, then threw it on the ground.
"I was so bewildered," said Lua. "I can't even believe this is happening right now."
"He was throwing obscenities at me that were homophobic and very hateful. And I was just like, I need to pick my battles and just go the other way."
Lua says as a drag queen, they've definitely encountered hate before, but not in this way where it seemed like "visceral hatred," and completely unexpected given the time of day at 10 a.m.
"I think a lot of those accusations come from this resurgence of queer hatred against drag artists and trans artists and trans people in general. And it's just really not fair that that is perpetuated onto me just for putting up a poster about a drag show."
Karen Smallwood is the organizer of the Drag Lip Sync Battle, the event Lua was putting up posters for. She says she was caught off guard after hearing what Lua experienced.
"When I found out that happened, I was horrified for Lua. Felt bad for putting her in that position putting posters up," Smallwood said.
Lua says they feel strongly about sharing the story because Windsor's drag community is so "vibrant" and "amazing," with a lot of talent.
"To think that the people in my community that I represent are under attack even locally, let alone everything that we hear on a constant daily basis … Like it's not right. We shouldn't have to be dealing with this in 2023. It's ridiculous."
We [drag queens] are good people, says Lua, calling it her "mission" to humanize their community.
"If I can change one person's mind from watching this or from hearing me, then my job is done."
"We're trying to live our authentic lives, especially in Windsor. And opportunities don't come to us easily. We don't have gay spaces and we don't have that freedom to really put our whole heart and soul into our creativity."
Smallwood says event organizers should not be intimidated by drag events or their potential consequences.
"People who are involved in the promoting of entertainment need to realize you can take a chance on drag," she said. "Don't be scared by events getting canceled or events getting protested against."
Lua says they feel like overall Windsor is a safe community for everyone.
"There are trans performers that do exist in the community. Like myself, I'm non-binary and there are a few other drag performers that are trans as well, and a few other gender queer performers."
Lua says they decided to respond to the incident of homophobia in a creative way by re-enacting it Friday at Walkerville's Jubilee Park.
"It's definitely a publicity stunt. Like, I'm not going to lie. I'm here to entertain and I'm here to shake the boundaries and to take people out of the box."
"It's definitely something, for some people, to get past their bias to see this and be like, 'oh, my gosh, there are people here that want to fight for queer rights.'"