The Manifestation Of Worshipthegays: An Ode To Art, Rebellion, And Supreme Adoration

The Manifestation Of Worshipthegays: An Ode To Art, Rebellion, And Supreme Adoration


“My drag name is not just a name; it is a statement of celebrating the LGBTQIA+ and empowerment for the alternative,” declares Worshipthegays.

Alternative drag challenges the prevalent ideas of the rigid gender roles and stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream society and explores different creative expressions and unconventional aesthetics. One that stands tall is the audacious and provocative Worshipthegays, who believes, “I’m not a woman or a man. Hindi ako maganda or gwapo. I’m just myself. Empowered by my identity, expression, and sexuality.”

Genesis: The Seeds of Worship

Worshipthegays grew up in a born-again Christian family. “Lumaki akong takot masunog sa impyerno,” she confesses. “Naging mahirap sa’kin na tanggapin ang sarili ko. Dumating na lang ako sa punto na tumigil akong parusahan ang sarili ko at sinumulan kong tanggapin at mahalin ang sarili ko. ‘Yun naman ang tinuturo ng relihiyon: ang mahalin ang kapwa kagaya ng pagmamahal sa sarili” 

Sometimes we are placed in unexpected situations by chance, a happy stumble, or sheer luck that gives us the spark that lights the path toward self-discovery. For Worshipthegays, that opportunity arose when she was a film student at UP Diliman. Part of their class was to impersonate their favorite artist or celebrity, and she chose Beyoncé. “That time, nag-spark na sa’kin ‘yung kakaibang feeling. ‘Yun yata ‘yung tinatawag nilang body euphoria,” she says. 

Experimental and transgressive photography was initially where her thirst for the arts flowed until she eventually delved into queer art. “Nagbasa-basa ako. Nag-unlearn ng maraming bagay at patuloy na natututo,” says Worshipthegays. She immersed herself by interning at Team Magazine, dove deep into queer films and history, and researched the Blitz Kids, the New Romantics, and club kids, allowing her to open herself to new ideas and perspectives. The journey leading to her persona was truly transformative and enriching.

“Whenever I do my drag, it is my form of protest celebrating my deviance. Taking up space for being different and the power of non-conformity.”

The Blazing Reverence for Drag

An artist’s urge to create is eternal and driven by the desire to express oneself and dissect new ideas. “Bahagi ‘yan ng proseso na gusto mong may ilabas, may gustong sabihin, at maraming gustong gawin,” says Worshipthegays. “Whenever I do my drag, that is my way of tapping into my higher self.” 

She declares she’s very passionate, so much so that she sees a vision of fire whenever an inspiration worthy of action strikes her. It could be a creative burst that ignites within, burning away old ideas to make room for new perspectives. She says: “Kapag alam kong may apoy, gagawin at gagawin ko kahit anong circumstance man ‘yan. Kahit nga it’s dangerous physically; I’ll still do it. Kaya nga apoy eh, kahit na it gives life, it also destroys. Para mabuo ko ‘yung vision, kailangan paghirapan. Hindi madali ang drag. Hindi madali ang art. You do it passionately with fire in your heart and mind.”

Alternative artists like Worshipthegays, in essence, are twofold rebels: first, against heteronormativity, and next, against the widely accepted and much more visible mold of drag. “People don’t really like it when you are different, strange, and they can’t categorize you into something. It scares them,” she says. But Worshipthegays has a clear sense of purpose and self-worth; she doesn’t need to seek validation from others. She adds: “The challenge is that there are no spaces for us. Kasi siyempre, sa capitalistic na aspect ng kabadingan, mas gusto ng mga tao sa bar ang tumatambling. ‘Yung mga magaganda. Kailangan perpek at polished. ‘Yung madaling ma-digest ng audience.”

Throwback to the NightOfWorship

Worshipthegays took the initiative to create a space for offbeat queer artists and allow them to feel safe and included. NightOfWorship was that vision of fire illuminating a path and providing focus to bring her ideas to life. While lacking experience in performing and organizing an event, Worshipthegays braved it through with the help of Fringe MNL and her drag sisters: Angel01d, Angelus, Collision Course, Floyd Scott Tiogangco, GVsoria, intent-chronic-p-d, Ma Genta, Mala Yaugh, Manang, MAMSER, Noe Juan, OV CUNT, Paolo Dumlao, Pura Luka Vega, Superstarlet XXX, TAECONVICT, Travistea, Yvaine, and DJ Kim FG.

NightOfWorship took place just a month shy before the pandemic hit. It was a performance show that addressed the issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community and an avenue for experimental and alternative art. The show proceeds went to PAFPI, a non-profit organization that empowers people with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs). 

Worshipthegays looks back: “Kakaiba ‘yung inihain ng NightOfWorship sa local drag scene that time. Nag-open ‘yung show na may prusisyon at pagpasok mo kulay pula lang ang ilaw sa loob. May nag-abortion, nag-perform in stilts, performance na lumabas sa maletang malaki, may kumain ng uod, nag-lecture about queer, may nagluto, uminom ng ihi, at sinusukahan sa bibig habang nakasuot ng Jesus Christ on stage. Sa labas ng stafe, may free HIV testing din na nagaganap.”

People in attendance said they felt like a portal inside their heads was opened after experiencing all that madness and insanity, and local drag queens picked a lesson or two in being bold and fearless. 

The Next Worship

The year 2020 seemed promising because of NightOfWorship, and with just a snap of a finger, COVID-19 happened and shattered everything. Worshipthegays reveals, “Tumigil lahat ng plano ko. Nawalan ako ng direction. Lumipas ang dalawang taon na halos mapunta na ako sa puntong itigil ang art at drag.” 

Now, she’s determined to turn the corner and start again. “I’m taking all the opportunities to learn again, grow more, be better, and reignite the fire inside me.” 

The fire that is waiting to set off is The Cult Of Worship, a new drag and offbeat queer artists’ collective (Saint Avant, Dagang Costa, and Key Fang) mothered by Worshipthegays. 

“I am also looking forward to making NightOfWorship happen again this year. Kailangan na ulit natin ugain ang sangkabaklaan.”

Photos courtesy of WORSHIPTHEGAYS (via Instagram)

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