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New Queer Voices: Female drag queen TeTe Bang

The female drag queen reveals she didn't fit into the box of what a lesbian was supposed to be

By Steve Brown

In Attitude’s 25th anniversary issue – available to download and to order globally now – we’re showcasing the boundary-pushing, trailblazing talents who’ll be paving the way for the next next 25 years.

TeTe Bang is a UK female drag queen who never fitted into the box of what a lesbian was ‘supposed to be’. Here she explains how her drag persona was born.

When did you discover the world of drag, and when was TeTe born?

TeTe has always been there. I was fortunate enough to be brought up around strong women who taught me to be bold and express how I feel.

My mum was a stripper for many years while I was a child and I was always around showgirls. This really gave me an insight into the power of being able to transform yourself with costume.

TeTe really started to spread her wings during the last years of the legendary Black Cap in London’s Camden Town, where I was immersed in the London queer scene.

So who is TeTe?

She’s the queer pop princess you never asked for. I represent people who don’t fit into the boxes mainstream “gay” scene tries to put us in.

My drag allows me to connect with people, to get to know their stories and experiences. As a community, we have so much to teach the world.

What obstacles have you faced as a “bio” queen? Especially, perhaps, from those who may not have encountered female drag performers before.

When I started properly exploring drag, RuPaul’s Drag Race wasn’t as big as it is now. No one mentioned that “women can’t do drag.” I never thought of my gender as an obstacle.

But as the show has become more popular, people take everything RuPaul says as the word of God.

The negative comments I receive online are mainly from Drag Race fans saying that my existence and drag is invalid, based solely on my assigned gender. It’s sad.

The thing is, there are so many more people who love me, and support and encourage me.

The fact I get booked as a drag personality is proof that anyone can do drag.

Who are you providing a voice for within the queer community?

When I first came out, as a teenager, I felt a huge pressure to present more masculine as a way to prove my “gayness.” This pressure came from the rest of the queer community. There were no lesbian role models who I could relate to.

The people I had the most common interests with were gay men. So, I didn’t fit into the box of what a lesbian was supposed to be, but I wasn’t the right gender to be in the club.

I felt very lost for a long time. I finally felt comfortable with myself when I was given a home in the London queer community.

I decided to become my own role model and give a voice to those people who are floating around the in-between, to the courageous and inspiring queer women we too quickly chose to forget.

What are you embracing about current queer culture?

I want us to embrace complete inclusivity. Everybody is welcome at the table. The LGBTQ community needs to be an example for the rest of the world.

We need to work together and help the least-supported members of our family, to show the world that love and compassion is the answer.

What are your hopes, dreams and ambitions for the next 25 years?

I want to create more inclusive spaces for people to explore and be their true selves. I have also been fortunate enough to take part in an incredible upcoming TV show for Channel 4, where I travel around the UK bringing drag to the public.

One of my biggest dreams is to write a coming-of-age comedy that explores queer adolescence.

In 2044, what do you want your legacy to be?

I hope that my work, and my stories and experiences help others like me who at some point didn’t feel as if they had a place in this world.

I want them to feel that they can find community, can find like-minded and caring people who will love and support them, who will celebrate them for being their true selves.

Meet more queer trailblazers in Attitude’s 25th anniversary issue, out now.

Buy now and take advantage of our best-ever subscription offers: 3 issues for £3 in print, 13 issues for £19.99 to download to any device.