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How Lawrence Chaney beat the bullies to become a superstar

The RuPaul's Drag Race series two winner reveals how they beat the bullies and online trolls to become a superstar in the Attitude Tea Time digital special, in association with TAIMI.

By Will Stroude

If he who laughs last laughs hardest, then as the last queen standing on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK series two, Lawrence Chaney just might be about to pull a muscle. 

For Britain’s newly-anointed drag superstar, aka 24-year-old Lawrence Maidment, victory on television’s biggest queer platform is the culmination of a journey that began alone in a school library school in the late noughties.

“I’ve always felt ostracised from groups in school”, Lawrence says as she takes to the cover of the Attitude Tea Time digital special in association with TAIMI – free to download when you subscribe to the Attitude mobile and tablet edition (30% off for a limited time only) and individually for £1.99 here.

“I’d sit in the library and eat my lunch, even though you weren’t meant to. I just felt so isolated, and embarrassed of being isolated, as well. So, it’s just been a kind of constant battle.”

Lawrence Chaney wears dress by Get Frocked; stoning by Exotic Ecdysiast by Kim Khaos (Hair and makeup by Lawrence; photography by Lovelace Visual)

Lawrence, who says their time showcasing their craft as a comedy performer in the workroom felt like “reclaiming power”, recalls: “I think drag really helped me find myself. I started drag and playing around with makeup even before I said I was gay.

“Before I came out to my parents, I used to do drag and play around with makeup and draw my eyebrows on with acrylic paint. I needed it to build Lawrence’s confidence up so that the stage persona could almost take one for the team.

 “That confidence that I used in drag helped me to go, ‘Listen, Mum, this is how I feel, this is who I am.’ And my [coming out] went great. My parents have always been supportive. They’re very caring and just so sweet.

“But [drag] was such an instrumental part of my growing up. I truly am a better person because I started drag.”

Asked what she’d say to the bullies if she saw them now, Lawrence says defiantly: “I actually wouldn’t say anything. What I’ve learned is that the main thing that they want is a response. That’s why they bully you. That’s why they kick you or punch you or call you nasty names. It’s because they want a reaction. 

Lawrence Chaney wears dress by Get Frocked; stoning by Exotic Ecdysiast by Kim Khaos (Hair and makeup by Lawrence; photography by Lovelace Visual)

“So now, for me, I wouldn’t give it to them.”

She continues: “I’ve had a few people from school, the ones who used to laugh at me as I was walking past them in the lunch hall and think I was a weirdo, reach out to me and say, ‘Thank you for going on TV, because I get it now.’

“When they were 13/14, they didn’t get why I was camp and spoke the way I spoke. Or why I was cracking jokes every so often. It was because it was a defence mechanism. It was a way for me to stay sane and it was an outlet for me. That’s what drag is as well — it’s an outlet and escapism.”

While Lawrence’s Drag Race UK journey has been one of triumph, the series front-runner hasn’t been immune from the internet hostility that’s sadly come to define much of the conversation around Drag Race in 2021.

Lawrence Chaney wears dress by Get Frocked; stoning by Exotic Ecdysiast by Kim Khaos (Hair and makeup by Lawrence; photography by Lovelace Visual)

“I deactivated Twitter and everyone was really worried for my safety and my wellbeing. I think a lot of people were, like, ‘Is Lawrence going to harm himself?’ When in reality I just needed some time for me away from it,” Lawrence reflects.

“When things get too toxic, you need to go or else you’ll be sat there with the app still on your phone. And what are you going to do next? You’re going to get bored because we’re all still in lockdown, you’re going to go on Twitter and read that you’re a fat slut and then want to hate yourself even more.

“For me, I just needed to step away… This isn’t my job. My job isn’t on Twitter. My job is being me and making you all laugh. This [social media] is just an avenue you can go down. But who said you can’t take a day off? You have to have a day off just to keep your mental health in check, especially right now when everyone’s mental health is in the toilet.

“We need to do whatever we can to make sure we’re not struggling and make sure we can get through it to see tomorrow.”

As it turns out, Lawrence has people in his own life who are happy to keep his ego in check already – not least his own mother, who had a rather surprising reaction to her son’s Drag Race UK victory airing earlier this month.

“My mum is a very stereotypical Glaswegian mum. She’s pretty nononsense” laughs Lawrence. “So, once it had been announced that I had won, she messaged me afterwards and said, ‘Lawrence, they’ve aired you winning. Is that a mistake?’ She thought it was a technical error or whatever!”

Lawrence adds with a cackle: “I was, like, ‘No, Mum, that’s the show!’. Like, how could it be a technical mistake?!

“That’s my mum in a nutshell. She’s always there to keep me grounded…”

The Attitude Tea Time digital special in association with TAIMI is out now.

Download it now for just £1.99.