When Londyn Bradshaw was asked to be a Twitch Partner during Pride Month, they made history on the popular streaming platform by becoming the first Black drag artist to receive this recognition.
“I always said I wanted to help make a space for people of color on this platform,” they tell Dexerto. “It’s a relief, in a way, because it shows that Twitch trusts me to help create that space. I’m excited that we get to do that, and it’s cool to be seen.”
Londyn is a member of Stream Queens, a growing team of drag artists who stream to audiences around the world on Twitch. Many of them play popular online games like Dead By Daylight or Mario Kart together, while others put on live performances or do transformations.
Perhaps most importantly, the team welcomes everyone. While the popular TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race has brought drag to the mainstream, it has faced criticism for not being inclusive enough. But on Twitch, anyone can have a platform, from queens to kings and beyond.
“I saw this potential for queer artists to thrive and be seen on Twitch,” Stream Queens founder Deere tells us. “Making drag and queer people accessible, and visible, has and will continue to help us find a sense of belonging by finding each other.”
What started out as a small team has since grown to include almost a hundred diverse drag artists, each with their own talents and niche interests to share. One of these people is Cash Monet, who like many others began streaming on Twitch while in lockdown.
“I never thought I would be the kind of person to host shows or introduce other performers, but Twitch really helped me be more interactive and broaden my audience immensely,” she says. “Sometimes this is the first time a viewer will see a drag artist or even a gay person!”
While pursuing their passion and entertaining viewers may be the main appeal of streaming, Cash Monet has also used her platform to raise money for the charity Stop AAPI Hate. It’s one of the many ways drag artists are using Twitch for good.
“From the beginning of doing drag, I knew I wanted to make sure that I was doing more than just being a performer,” she explains. “I might not have money to give since I’m living the artist lifestyle, but I do have time to give. Fundraising is something I can do without spending my own money.”
It’s not all love and positivity, of course, as Twitch is known for having its fair share of trolls. The live nature of the streaming platform means anyone can tune in and spread negativity in the comments section, something Londyn Bradshaw has experienced firsthand.
“I was on the front page for Pride this month, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many ways to say racial slurs. I was kind of shocked, to be honest,” Londyn tells us. “There are quite a lot of trolls in the world of Twitch – and then you get the Bible thumpers who say I’m going to hell.”
“As a person of color, you deal with racism when you’re outside walking down the street,” they continue. “On Twitch, you have mods who are very kind and help delete those comments. If you’re putting yourself out there, you have to be aware that it won’t always be a positive response.”
Deere has also faced the darker side of Twitch. When they got their own ‘PogChamp’ emote, they faced a barrage of homophobia. But just like Londyn, they’re willing to deal with any hate that comes their way if it means they can inspire others.
“I will gladly take on trolls and become a target if it can normalize queer people in spaces not made for us,” explains Deere. “It’s all worth it in the end if it can become easier and easier for those being themselves after us!”