Drag queen Electra La Cnt made a statement with her outfit at Belfast Pride Festival, but it had less to do with her eye catching dress and more to do with what was sitting atop her head: a tiara coated in blood from an HIV-positive donor. The message: stop the stigma.
The blood was taken from a consenting person by a qualified doctor. The blood was left to dry and then sprayed with a plastic sealant to prevent it from running in the rain.
“I’ve witnessed the abuse that HIV-positive friends of mine have received on online dating apps and the stigma is definitely still there,” Electra told The Huffington Post. “There’s confusion over how HIV is transmitted, which leads to assumptions, and hatred. Vangardist, an Austrian magazine, mixed HIV-positive blood with ink in a special HIVHeroes edition, and it inspired me to do something similar. It was bold, it was effective, but it was so meaningful. The message behind it was simple: fight the stigma.”
“I am fully aware that heterosexual HIV-positive individuals outweigh the number of HIV-positive homosexual people in the UK now,” Electra wrote on Facebook. “But in the light of the decision regarding the NHS funding PrEP, our community are once again labelled as sexual deviants amongst the media who regard it as a ‘gay disease’, and heterosexual HIV-positive individuals as innocent victims – we are all innocent victims. Please do not let this dilute the power of educating yourself and others on the irrational fears surrounding HIV transmission.”
The donor has shared on Facebook a hateful message he received about donating the blood for the tiara, showing exactly why these sorts of bold actions are needed in the first place.
On a more supportive note, Electra’s performance on stage alongside fellow drag queens was shared by none other than RuPaul herself.