A British drag group called Drag Syndrome – which features performers with Down Syndrome – is speaking out after an anti-LGBTQ+ troll said they were being exploited and called them too vulnerable to participate in drag.
Drag Syndrome member Lady Mercury posted a series of videos on the group’s social media declaring that “people with Down Syndrome, they are very talented people” and they “need to be respected by other people.”
They went on to say Down Syndrome is not a “sick illness” and “we don’t need to be treated like dogs.”
The hate toward Drag Syndrome was spewed by problematic influencer Oli London, who spent a year living as a gender-fluid “Korean” before deciding to once again live as a British man. He then became a far-right activist campaigning against trans rights.
The formerly “transracial” Brit made headlines in 2018 when he paid for 18 surgeries to turn himself “Korean.” A description of his forthcoming new book, Gender Madness, says it will tell the story of how a corrupt gender-affirming care “industry” forced him to try to become a “Korean woman.”
Last week, London tweeted a photo of a Drag Syndrome performer and wrote, “This vulnerable person with Down Syndrome is seen performing on stage in fetish gear and holding a whip at an LGBT Club in Oslo, Norway. This vulnerable man is part of ‘Drag Syndrome’ a UK based Drag Company where people with Down syndrome perform in LGBT nightclubs around the world as Drag Queens. This is exploitation of vulnerable people!”
Many have since come to the performers’ defense, some even speaking out about their own positive experiences working with them.
Drag Syndrome, itself, also posted its own clapbacks, in addition to the videos.
This is not the first time Drag Syndrome has battled hate. In 2019, a Michigan venue canceled the group’s show because the owner also claimed he was protecting the performers from being “exploited.”
At the time, performer Justin Bond responded with a video on Instagram.
“I don’t want people in America to think that Daniel is abusing us,” Bond said, referring to Daniel Vais, the group’s creative director. “I know most Americans think it’s terrible. You’ve got Down syndrome, you don’t have what it takes.”
“But I think we do have what it takes because we deserve the right to be in drag and to perform.”