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Drag Shows ‘Boost Happiness And Mental Wellbeing’

  • Live drag shows increase the happiness and wellbeing of audiences and can help ease anxiety and depression, according to a new academic study
  • The worldwide success of RuPaul’s Drag Race credited with making club nights more diverse, welcoming and inclusive
  • Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University, Brighton and Northampton quizzed audiences from across the UK

Drag shows increase the happiness and mental wellbeing of audiences and can help ease anxiety and depression, according to a new study.

The worldwide success of RuPaul's Drag Race has attracted mainstream crowds to live venues and made the scene more diverse, welcoming and inclusive, experts claim.

Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University, BIMM Brighton and the University of Northampton, surveyed more than 250 people who attended drag events across the UK.

Many said drag shows offered a sense of freedom and happiness in a non-judgmental environment and were a place for self-expression, to socialise, and have fun.

The majority cited RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, streamed on BBC Three, as a factor in their attendance, with a quarter of respondents identified as heterosexual women.

Several respondents said the atmosphere of acceptance and openness had a positive effect on their mental health and had eased anxiety and depression, with many describing drag events as extremely welcoming and inclusive ‘no matter gender or lifestyle choices’.

Daniel Baxter, lecturer in International Tourism and Event Management at Glasgow Caledonian University, and one of the authors, said: “There is overwhelming evidence to support the feeling that attending these events allow individuals to be their ‘true selves’.

“This creates an atmosphere of acceptance and openness, creating a safe space for attendees which is non-judgmental.

“It encourages liberation and self-expression, which boosts attendees’ confidence, and has a positive impact on happiness and mental wellbeing.”

He added: “It is evident that drag events have become an accepted form of entertainment and a part of mainstream society and popular culture in the UK.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race has been a catalyst for this change, attracting audiences from outside the LGBTQ+ community.

“Drag events were considered by the attendees as a safe space, where they seek escapism from everyday life by immersing themselves in the drag experience.”

With crowds becoming more diverse, performers at drag events have an opportunity to increase awareness of LGBTQ+ issues.

The study, published in the academic journal Event Management, concludes: “The popularisation of drag has created a more diverse audience attending these events allowing attendees to feel part of a community.

“Performers have an opportunity to educate attendees on both the historical and current plight of LGBTQ+ communities around the world. This message can help create a sense of unity and community which connects those in attendance.”

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