A young student’s pursuit in finding himself through his performances in drag acts.
From painfully squeezing into 6 inch heels to throwing on his first £20 wig, Joseph Hanley is nothing short of a drag queen. Being a big fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race at 16 years old, he took a jab at this world and fancied it. For him, this scene completely heightened when going to Sheffield Hallam university where he studied Stage and Screen. “I think once I was in a big city and was surrounded by an LGBTQIA+ community, I truly felt inspired and comfortable to express myself.”
Black bob: 4th October 2017 by Joseph Hanley
The 20-year-old prides off the freedom in doing what he admires and therefore support from loved ones is sentimental to him. “My family have always been so supportive, from coming out, to asking my Mum to buy me some heels. My dad and grandma always ask me for the latest picture of my drag to show their friends.”
Grey hair: 6th March, 2017 by Joseph Hanley
“From what I gather, he takes inspiration from his favourite drag artists but ultimately, he absolutely has his own style and flare that he channels through each and every look I see him do”, says Hanley’s housemate and university friend, Georgia Gregory.
Originally from Halifax, West Yorkshire, Hanley believes that drag is seen as an expression of character and personality, especially in the world of performing. Although he does not study it on his course, he believes that the notion of drag is an extension of who he is; another part of himself.
“My drag is definitely a part of who I am and a part of my gender expression, but also my expression as a performer.”
Along with this notion of wanting to perform in any type of drag, he also has a steady head in terms of not knowing whether it will hinder his success or not, even with the successful drag artists like William Belli, he doesn’t truly know.
Visual Poetry about Love and Loss, directed by Joseph Hanley and Annie Bolstridge
Another classmate of Hanley, Abigail Hadfield says “I understand that Joe is involved in the Sheffield Hallam Student Union”, having met him within the first year of university, “i’ve seen him participate in fancy dress pub crawls and he has always dressed in drag.”
With his passion for wanting to become a drag performer came the rigmarole of how he is perceived to the rest of society. “I think that perception is insane; gender expression outside of the binary has always existed, it is not new and it isn’t going away anytime soon, and as much as there will always be the person in the back spewing negativity, I do think it’s important to note that we’re getting somewhere.”
These days, the way one identifies themselves is automatically shown to the public, as a way of defining who they are. Similar traits are seen through Hanley, as the 20-year-old believes that gender expression in the LGBTQ community should be explored more. “I think a lot of us are lucky and forget that – a lot of us can safely venture out of our house in six inch heels and a six foot wig and do whatever the hell we want and be supported, but it is so vital to understand that that is not the case for all people.”
Hanley uses social media as a way to portray who he is, https://www.instagram.com/j.hxnley/