Richard Rockhard typically gets ready for his drag performances at home. He pulls out his makeup kit and contours his face. Then, he paints his moustache area black, completing a masculine look. “The makeup takes the longest amount of time and so you do want to make sure that it’s perfect before you start moving on to other things,” the drag performer explains. With the hardest work out of the way, Rockhard binds his chest and throws on the black costume he bought weeks before. Then, he heads out for his performance.
Tonight, Rockhard will be strutting their stuff from a social distance, on a different sort of stage: The screen of your phone or laptop. He's one of the drag performers taking part in Our Artists Matter: A Qtbipoc Pride Show, a virtual event held as part of Halifax Pride.
The show, streaming from 8-11pm today on Facebook Live, will feature a number of performances from the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Rockhard says these kinds of shows are important because BIPOC artists’ talents in North America don’t get showcased often in the media. He says his representation as a drag king is for others who are like him: “It encourages them and lets them know that ‘hey I can do this too,’” he says.
Rockhard performs to rock songs—as his name implies—and “songs that make you feel things.” His favourite? Anything by Queens of the Stone Age.
Although Rockhard is primarily a drag king, he sometimes toes the line between masculinity and femininity in his performances: “I like to say Richard is all of my best attributes personified,” Rockhard (or, as he's known offstage, Courtney Stanley) says.
Rockhard's performance during tonight's event is a clip from a documentary his friend filmed about being a drag performer and dealing with mental illness. He dances to Kanye West’s 2013 song "Black Skinhead."
“It basically chronicles like, kind of what it is, what it’s like to live in North America as a Black person,” Rockhard adds of the show. “People should expect to see a bunch of Black, Indigenous, people of colour that are part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community just living loudly and unapologetically.”
The interdisciplinary artist wants to use DaFuque's performance tonight to highlight issues like racism and systemic oppression. “It’s an access point to having a much larger conversation and about building the communities we want to be part of,” they say.
DaFuque’s prerecorded performance at the event is about their experience growing up as an Indigenous person—and how Indigenous people are presented in the media. It features scenes from mass media and from specifically Indigenous communities, “and those are projected onto my body as I perform.”
They say people should expect to see resilience and strength from tonight's artists: “Fundamentally, it’s about who we are as people of colour who live on this intersection of queerness.”