We had the good fortune of connecting with Jayde Justyce and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jayde, how do you think about risk?
To be both multiracial and openly queer is a risk in itself. It’s a daily risk for me to enter a room or an environment in which I am not the hegemonic being and that forces a different outlook on life and specifically my art. When I enter a room chances are there are very few people who look like me, who share the same experiences as me or have the same ideologies that I do. Even within my very own artistic community, who’s voice is shared and who’s a part of the story is always in need of reform. I am always at risk of subtle comments, unchecked biases, and potentially harmful discriminations depending on the situation I enter. These actions against me (or against anyone for that matter) are not just a case by case fault but instead a product of the institution society has created. The United States has created a system of bigotry, intolerance, and “othering” that started on July 4th, 1776 and has since trickled into our lives in various ways due to the lack of individuals at the table or in the room.

Lower class individuals, BIPOC individuals, Queer Individuals, Women, etc. have all lacked a spot at the table and because of this, we risk our lives and our hearts to be heard. The hegemonic power, often led by a cisgendered affluent white male (however this power can be led by anyone with a position of power. Anyone with a level of conformity, class power, and credit can control.) seeks to diminish our existences through legislative process, censorship, and silence. We’ve seen this in the Florida “Don’t say gay bill”, Arizona Senate Bill 1138 and the restriction of trans awareness in schools, and the control of women’s bodies at a national level are all examples of the hegemonic power attempting to silence existence.

We created this system and we can tear it down. In the words of Dominique Jackson, “you do not have the power to accept me or tolerate me, I take that from you. You will respect me”. By doing drag I force attention on myself and it is with that attention that I get from the wigs, makeup, and shoes that I infuse politics into it. Look at me, now hear me. Hear the story I am telling, see that I am just like you, feel the emotions that I have. Drag has always been political and it’s always been risky. Not just risky when your wig starts to come off but risky when people have never seen this kind of art. They are unaware of the power it has to uplift communities, to shake the status quo, and to bring awareness to the existence of each other. Drag is often catty and competitive and I don’t believe in that behavior. I believe drag can be about coalition and community. It’s about love. Go with kindness. Uplift each other. We have to stand together, only when we do that can we make our existence not a risk but a celebration.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been doing drag for 3 years now going into my 4th. I started out as a little kid practicing makeup with a little Marshall’s makeup palette late at night and now here I am. At first, I didn’t see drag as an art form. Me? An artist? No way. I just wanted to be like the queens on Rupaul’s Drag Race. It wasn’t until I used drag as a way of tapping into my queerness and exploring the lines between the binary that I started to see the art in it. I wasn’t pretty, I wasn’t a “polished” queen, but I was me. I was colorful. I was alive. I was free. Through drag I was able to ascend from the constraints of the world and make my own. A pinch of purple eyeshadow made me the rising star of the century. Red lipstick made me a symbol of the roaring 20s. I became the person I felt on the inside.

While I was unlocking who I was, the world was shifting all around me. The extremism of right-wing political parties and the subordination of moderate left-wing officials allowed for our country to slip into a culture war, where we remain today. I am the child of climate change, gun violence, bigotry, systemic racism, and the everlasting SARS-COV2 virus. I grew up preparing for active shooters in schools, having people ask me about the infamous “wall” at the border and if I would be sent across it, and watching friends and family get sick with a widespread virus. Yet I am the child of education, technological advancement, social liberation, and resilience. I saw my generation march for climate policy, I stood with my friends against gun lobbyists during the March for Our Lives movement. I learned how to meet other people like me through social media and unify our community in dark times. These life changing events led to me seeing that yes, the world is terrible. It feels like we are in our darkest hour. Sometimes it feels like we lost the fight. I believe it’s just began. I’ve been in my darkest hour before, Drag saved me in that moment. Everything we do now is part of the fight to make the world a better place, the place of our dreams and my contribution is through my drag. If it could save me in my darkest hour, now it can save someone else. It’s not a superpower, but a light in the dark. A beacon of hope. I’m in this fight for my love for the world and the people in it and my armor is a pair of blue heels, a synthetic wig, and nails that are a pain to take off.

I think that’s what sets me apart from other artists and other drag performers. While Drag continues to climb to a mainstream audience, I think we’ve lost sight of our mission. It’s not just about getting on Rupaul’s Drag Race, it’s not just about being the prettiest person in the world, we need to do away with the competitive nature of this community. We cannot industrialize this beautiful art. Every outfit I create, every photo I take, and every song I perform to is a story. I created a chromatic orange outfit that makes me look like an astronaut but I use that outfit to emphasize that orange is NOT the new black and while I may look good in orange, what about the thousands unjustly serving in the Prison Industrial Complex? I may wear a bright pink 50s inspired dress with white pearls that may look like the woman of your dreams, but did you know the pink tax targets women everyday? It’s all colorfully political. Don’t get me wrong, I love fame and attention as much as the next drag artist does and I would love to be on a show like Rupaul’s Drag Race but the fame will come only when you touch lives. That’s what my art is for, I do drag to touch the hearts of others.

I want the world to know that kindness is key. Be compassionate of your fellow human. We never know what someone else is going through in that moment. Remember that we are all survivors under corrupt institutions. Stand together with each other. Be loud. Be provocative. Shake up the status quo. Try a pair of heels while you’re at it! No justice no peace.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Coming to Flagstaff is best in the fall. If not, come in late summer! Enjoy the rain, beautiful skies, and green landscape. Places you have to eat at are The Tourist Home cafe for breakfast. The place used to be a hostel back when Flagstaff was a lumber town and the French toast in the morning is the best, plus it’s always nice to sit outside. After that, I would recommend visiting the Museum of Northern Arizona. Learn about the land that Flagstaff occupies after all, this wasn’t our land from the start. Recognize the area of Kinłání as a place with rich history that is not ours. Learn from it. For lunch you have to try Pato Thai, it’s an amazing Thai restaurant right on Route 66 in the downtown area. It’s busy but worth the wait! After that, visit warner’s nursery right outside of downtown where you can see all the cool plants in the greenhouses and the koi pond outside. Pricey but it’s always nice to window shop. For dinner you’ll want to go to Delhi Palace. It’s amazing Indian Cuisine and the staff is so friendly. While you’re here go hiking on any of our trails but fat man’s loop is easiest! Respect the forest while you’re here. Be sure to check out Two Guns as well! You might even see some of the places where I did some projects!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate my shoutout to so many people. I dedicate this to my best friend Tessa Moul who’s given me so much in life. Her kindness, uniqueness, and compassion make me who I am to this day. I wouldn’t be here without her; everyday I owe my success to her. I dedicate my work to my team, the amazing House of Justyce. Matthias Glass who not is my platonic companion and “certified straight friend”, but also my voice of reason. Austin Cardone who is the sun on my rainy day, always making the most of any situation. Ash Stump who grew up with me, watched me blossom, and become who I am today. My mother, my biggest fan, who didn’t have the opportunity to see me grow until later years but has uplifted me in any way that she can. Lastly, I thank Monty Daniels who paved the way for Jayde to touch lives and continues to inspire me everyday. This is for y’all.

Instagram: https://instagram.com/justyceforall_?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

Other: Jaydejustyce@gmail.com

Image Credits
Monty Daniels

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