Just in time for #IDAHOT2021 (which we’re calling #galzidahot), we reveal the GALZ Jacaranda Queen!
But first, what is drag?
Drag is a creative artform where people of all gender identities and orientations can express their love of all things fabulous by transforming using makeup, shoes, accessories and clothing. Drag has over its history typically involved transformation of male presenting persons using traditionally feminine tools to give the appearance of a woman, but has now become more encompassing. In simple terms, men used to dress and adorn themselves as women, usually as part of shows for entertainment or for pageants. Initially persons who partook in cross-dressing were known as ‘transvestite’ but that term has been replaced*. (See an excerpt from GLAAD’s guide below for correct terms to be used).
The History and why the Jacaranda Pageant was created
General homophobia and restrictive legislation make it difficult for LGBTI people in Zimbabwe to feel safe about being open about their sexuality in public spaces. The traditional international Gay Pride month is June but the homegrown ZimPride is observed in October, which is traditionally Pride Month in the Southern Hemisphere. The Miss Jacaranda Queen Drag Pageant, named after the tree which blooms around this time, was previously established as an opportunity for Zimbabwean LGBTI persons to celebrate PRIDE locally where every year a Queen was chosen along with a First Princess, a Second Princess and a Miss Personality. The first official Jacaranda Queen Drag Pageant took place in 1995. For the first five years, it was organised independently from GALZ but, in 2000, the association took over official control of the event. The last of these were held in 2013 whereafter the political administration made it difficult to hold an event of such nature. Drag artistry is generally associated with gay men and gay culture, but in modern times artists can be of any gender and sexual identity. People partake in the activity of doing drag for reasons ranging from self-expression to mainstream performance.
Usually, Jacaranda Queen was held publicly but due to effects of the coronavirus pandemic there was need to provide a digital alternative that members could freely participate in privately without the dangers of public events.
The 2020 edition – contestants, judges, prizes and the winner
Pride is traditionally celebrated by worldwide events and activities. With the spread of the coronavirus (2019-2020), planned activities had to evolve to be cognisant of the limitations to physical contact and holding of gatherings but still create platforms for LGBTI people to express themselves even during the restricted period to reassure that even while the world has changed the need for visibility in the community is still celebrated.
The revival of the pageant was also a complement to GALZ’s 30th Anniversary celebrations. Yes, GALZ has been around since 1990!
The pageant was offered virtually to allow artists to take part in the privacy of their own homes. The 2020 edition was also welcoming of interpretations from all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions (SOGIE). It ran from 30 October to 15 November 2020. Contestants had to be GALZ members, who sent images via WhatsApp for Judging to be done privately and safely. They had to share their preferred name, SOGIE tag, town and age with 3 pictures in the following looks:
Look 1. African attire
Look 2. Formal and eveningwear
Look 3. Summer smart
Scoring was on a 1-5 scale per 5 categories; 3 looks plus Understanding of Drag (did they follow the rules correctly) and Confidence, which can definitely be seen through poses.
The judges included 4 trusted activists across the LGBTIQ+ rainbow, who are incredibly knowledgeable about fashion, beauty and pageantry in their own right. A special shout out goes to Mary Audry Chard, Iyanda263, June Waters and Rikki Nathanson (Ms. Ricochet) who took their time with the judging and gave honest feedback and recommendations for the online pageant. They are also located across the world – namely Mutare, Harare, Joburg, Bulawayo and the USA – to give a diverse and balanced perspective on beauty standards.
Each winner walked away with a cash prize in USD. For their safety, their consent was sought and we aimed to ensure that even if it took some time to publish, when we did, the Jacaranda participants would be comfortable and safe. IDAHOT 2021 was the perfect time chosen to finally present to you the 2020 Jacaranda Queen…
Bigyoncé understood the brief! Every judge was impressed by the dressing, the model poses and the confidence that came out in every single shot.
Hailing from Plumtree and part of the GALZ Affinity Group in Mat South, Bigyoncé let us know that there are big things in small towns! Bigyoncé is 37, proving that age cannot slow down fabulosity.
We are so proud to have GALZ represented by a person who is both so humble and so grand at the same time!
Our runners up are Klaat (26) from Norton and Blue (22) from Gweru, who also served impressive looks. Well done!
The plans for 2021
An important part of this pageant is ensuring the safety of contestants. In 2021, the hope is to have a small pageant following Covid-19 regulations.
You can read more about the history of the Jacaranda Pageant here: https://www.angelfire.com/zine/gayzim/queens/jq.html
And here’s a helpful glossary of terms (because learning never stops):
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms – including transgender. Some of those terms are defined below. Use the descriptive term preferred by the person. Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures.
An older term that originated in the medical and psychological communities. Still preferred by some people who have permanently changed – or seek to change – their bodies through medical interventions, including but not limited to hormones and/or surgeries. Unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term. Many transgender people do not identify as transsexual and prefer the word transgender. It is best to ask which term a person prefers. If preferred, use as an adjective: transsexual woman or transsexual man.
Used as shorthand to mean transgender or transsexual – or sometimes to be inclusive of a wide variety of identities under the transgender umbrella. Because its meaning is not precise or widely understood, be careful when using it with audiences who may not understand what it means. Avoid unless used in a direct quote or in cases where you can clearly explain the term’s meaning in the context of your story.
While anyone may wear clothes associated with a different sex, the term cross-dresser is typically used to refer to men who occasionally wear clothes, makeup, and accessories culturally associated with women. Those men typically identify as heterosexual. This activity is a form of gender expression and not done for entertainment purposes. Cross-dressers do not wish to permanently change their sex or live full-time as women. Replaces the term “transvestite”.