GB News slagging off Epsom Derby for hosting drag show ‘misses the point’, says queen

Drag queen Cara Melle, wearing a gold dress and blonde hair, and a horse jockey

Backlash over Epsom Derby adding an LGBTQ-inclusive space complete with drag performances is “missing the point” entirely, says one of the drag queens involved.

Derby Day at Epsom Racecourse will welcome drag artists Cara Melle, Bonk and Drag Race UK alumn Le Fil, along with a free library of LGBTQ+ literature, as part of a new initiative to make horse racing feel more inclusive.

The Jockey Club, the UK’s largest horse racing organisation, unveiled its plans after research found that 70 per cent of LGBTQ+ people don’t believe there are enough spaces at sporting events created with queer people in mind. Four out of five respondents to the survey said they would be more likely to attend sports events if there were more LGBTQ-specific spaces.

This should have been cause for celebration, but the story quickly became a source of controversy when right-wing media outlets got their hands on it. In a segment on GB News, the initiative was described as “deeply offensive” and as a “PR stunt” by contributors, while The Telegraph questioned whether it was getting “a bit all in your face”.

For drag queen Cara Melle, the predictable backlash just goes to show why LGBTQ+ spaces are needed in the first place.

“It’s really important that we are there because it’s about normalising the culture and normalising what we do, and letting people of all ages take in this confidence that we always exude when we go on stage and we’re performing or having a good time,” she tells PinkNews.

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She points to the Jockey Club’s research as proof that queer people often don’t feel safe or comfortable in sporting environments.

“They don’t feel safe, they don’t feel like there’s a safe space for them. And I have many friends that have experienced the worst of the worst. I’ve unfortunately experienced things myself where people are just offended by our presence.”

While she knows how important an event like this is, Cara Melle admits she initially felt “saddened” and “misunderstood” when she saw the GB News segment.

“I think they’re actually missing the point,” she says. “We’re trying to put ourselves out there, be visible, be accepted, so then other people feel accepted.

“Now after thinking about it for a little bit longer and watching it back a few more times it just kind of made me laugh.”

Cara Melle wants GB News viewers to ‘feel the love’ at horse racing LGBTQ+ event

Despite the backlash, Cara Melle is excited to get out on the stage and bring a slice of queerness to the races.

“I’m definitely just really looking forward to being able to go out on that stage and still hold true to myself as a queer, trans woman and go for it.”

Her message to people who watch the likes of GB News is simple: “How about you just come and see us? How about you just come to the event?”

She continues: “Stand in the audience and just feel the energy, feel the love, feel the experience that we’re really giving to the people. And it’s not just about queerness – it’s about one-ness. It’s about openness. It’s about love and compassion and caring. 

“You don’t have to be queer to enter but your vibes must be queer darling, OK? We want to feel the energy, we want to feel the light, we want to feel the love. So just come with open arms.”