Breathing in with Ginger Snapp

The Kelowna Drag Queen smashes gender norms

Sitting in the sun, wearing an olive green fitted v-neck, blue jeans with patchwork detailing, with blonde hair, one blue eye and one brown, and a shy smile on his face, you would never know Eric Reynolds transforms into the red-headed vixen Ginger Snapp at night.

For five years Reynolds, a classically trained flautist, has been exploring the world as two entities, himself and his performance art pièce de résistance; Ginger Snapp.

“My drag is based on pushing the boundaries of gender norms, and that is why I do drag with a beard. I have shaved before, and I am convincing as a woman without my beard but, people don’t believe that I am a drag queen,” Reynolds said.

Ginger Snapp began showing glimpses of herself to Reynolds during Halloween, where he would dress up as a woman with “horrible makeup and no wig” as a gag. But when he moved to Kelowna he met Dustin Dufault, also known as Ella Lamoureux — one of the pioneers of drag in Kelowna— and Ginger Snapp was truly born.

“He came to me and wanted me to perform in the drag show for pride, and that was my first performance. Ella gave me the wig, and the heels and that was it, I fell in love with it. Being on stage is thrilling and exciting and something I could never figure out how to do with classical music,” Reynolds said. “It’s exhilarating I have always loved performance art.”

During a special performance at The Poetry Elf’s Poetry Burlesque event in May, Ginger Snapp revealed another side of herself, and of Reynolds.

“It was the first time I had really spoken that deeply on stage. It was a lot of raw emotion, it was different from other shows. Being vulnerable is not something I really put forward. Drag is a form of armour … I know that no one is going to take me home, I am not going out to meet anybody romantically It’s going out with a mask.

I really get to put forward a very confident side of me because typically I am pretty shy, personable but I am not out there like I am in drag,” Reynolds said.

Patience, the virtue of saints and those who wait destiny,

The kind you probably know better as fate

Be the kind of person that the world should like to have

Be grateful for your punishments for those have shaped your path

Relinquish bitter solitude regarded as vengeful thought

Hold hope inside your heart for all the joys you once have sought

What greater gift is gratitude?

All moments fleeting, find beauty in ineptitude,

For fault gives our lives meaning

— Daniel Levesque

The poem holds more meaning for Reynolds than he is able to convey. The poem helped him accept who he is.

It “ultimately helped me express myself as a drag queen,” Reynolds said.

“I have built Gingersnap’s character as witty and confident, I view it as acting but that person is very much apart of my life. I am a strong believer that everyone has masculine and feminine energies and being able to express both my masculine side and feminine side is very healthy.”

During his journey Reynolds has explored his masculine side and his feminine side cohesively. His family has accepted him for embracing every part of himself and his drag persona was revealed to two of his three brothers in a late night pizza shop in downtown Kelowna.

Related:An evening of burlesque, poetry and mystery descends on Kelowna

The unexpected family reunion turned into a favourite family memory quickly.

“They didn’t tell me they were going to be in Kelowna, and it was pride week,” Reynolds said, “I was in drag, we had all been drinking and we ran into each other at 3 a.m. and none of us knew what to say. I was wearing giant heels and had a bright red wig on, it was hilarious looking back on it now that it happened in a pizza place. They had never seen me in drag but they knew I did it.”

Reynolds grew up in Revelstoke and lived his school career as a closeted man, he did not dare share with his schoolmates that he was, in fact, gay. After watching the way his one out classmate was bullied, Reynolds quickly learned where he would have stood in the social ladder if he had been openly gay in high school.

That’s why he appreciates the provincewide implementation of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity 123 resource materials address race, ethnicity, religion and ability issues that lead to bullying, and sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I think it’s (SOGI 123) amazing I think it is definitely needed, it is becoming more and more known that transgender and non-binary is a thing, and more people are letting the younger generations accept who they are at a younger age. I find that incredible because I think about it …I went through my entire high school career afraid that someone was going to find out and I would be ostracized if someone had found out. I think that it’s great that kids now can feel accepted and not have to worry about expressing who they are,” Reynolds said. “When they haven’t learned those negative connotations, they haven’t learned that box thinking, you are not born with that so why teach people hatred and unacceptance?”

“Revelstoke is not a very accepting place, I love it, but I would never move back there. I grew up hiding and I got used to it. I don’t hide it anymore and have actually done drag shows there. But growing up in that kind of community you feel like you have to hide who you are,” Reynolds said.

Now winner of last year’s Kelowna’s Next Drag Superstar and judge of this year’s show Ginger Snapp and Eric Reynolds are not holding back. Continually serving looks that make him feel beautiful and fabulous with his beard, Ginger Snapp is a part of his life that is here to stay and slay.

Catch a glimpse of the fiery vixen Friday at FruitCake: 1.6 at Sapphire Night Club in Kelowna, The OYP Sugarplum Ball July 7 and judging Kelowna’s Next Drag Superstar Aug. 17.

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@sydneyrmorton
sydney.morton@kelownacapnews.com

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