Drag artist and theatre star Divina De Campo attended an LGBT History Month reception this week (7 Feb 2024) hosted by Speaker of The House, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, and used the opportunity to highlight the continued rise in anti-LGBTQ hate crime and normalisation of inflammatory rhetoric from elected officials in recent years.
Divina’s protest dress and shoes — made specially in Manchester and worn throughout the aforementioned event — displayed derogatory headlines that have been written about LGBTQ people over the last 10-15 years, as well as hate-crime statistics, and reference to the lack of access to services for LGBTQ people.
Speaking exclusively to Attitude, Divina said: “When I received the invite I decided that I would accept, but I would create a form of protest.
“I was in two minds about attending in the first place because the level of anti-LGBT rhetoric coming from the government and MPs in Westminster has been ramping up and up over the last 10 years.
“I didn’t want to go in all guns blazing. I didn’t think that would be a very helpful thing to do. So instead, I did what I do well, and created a piece of art: a red wig and a protest dress.”
MPs including Angela Eagle from the Labour Party and Elliot Colburn from the Conservative Party were in attendance, and both gave speeches.
“What is said in that chamber leads to real-world consequences for us”
Explaining the purpose behind wearing the dress to the event, Divina emphasised that parliamentarians ought to understand that their words and actions have real-life consequences.
“Lots of people commented on the dress, and were like: ‘This is amazing’ and then I said: ‘Read it’. And they said: ‘Oh OK… wow… OK. That kind of response.”
“And I think this is a problem in Westminster; those people don’t think that words have power; they don’t think that words have any real-world consequences. Because it’s all just a game. But it’s not a game; it’s real life for the rest of us. What is said in that chamber leads to real-world consequences for us.
“I wanted to take the words that MPs and ministers had sent out into the world to hurt and undermine our lives back to them in the only way I really know how — in a piece of art. A statement of defiance, and of course I went as a red top. A veritable tabloid on legs.”
“There’s no party with a completely clean record”
Divina went on to explain that anti-LGBTQ sentiment is a problem that isn’t exclusive to one political party which is why she didn’t target one in particular.
“This is a message for all MPs. There’s no party with a completely clean record on their MPs making horrible statements about LGBT people. Of course, the Tories are the worst. But Labour has huge problems in its ranks and they have allowed those problems to stay there rather than just saying, you think that such-and-such is a danger? Well then show me the data to prove that. There’s no data because it’s not a danger. So if you continue to target trans people in particular, or LGBT people broadly, you will be barred from the party and/or we will deselect you.
“Labour talks as if they’re the party of LGBT rights and allies, but the evidence isn’t showing that. Just the fact that Keir Starmer takes one position and then walks back on it. I don’t have any faith in any of them.”
Amongst others, lifelong human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and Strictly Come Dancing star Johannes Radebe were also present at the event.
“It was lovely to meet inspiring and interesting people from across the LGBTQ family.” Divina said.
“I was so conflicted being there because we were in this lovely room with all this gorgeousness around us and then there’s people in the country who are starving and can’t afford to heat their homes. And we’re drinking Champagne and going ‘rah rah aren’t we fabulous.’
“But I set out what I wanted to do. I spoke to quite a few MPs and I raised all of my concerns regarding anti-LGBT hate with all of them. And my protest dress was and will hopefully continue to be a reminder of the impact that harmful anti-LGBT rhetoric has on people.”
The post ‘A tabloid on legs’: Divina de Campo wears red wig and newsprint protest dress to Parliament event appeared first on Attitude.