Drag is art in its finest form. A place that invites anyone to openly express themselves with makeup, character exploration, and gender-fluid personas.
Kenneth Wyse is one of those artists. Their modern exploration of drag is fully personified in Kendall Gender, a powerful and uplifting force in Vancouver's drag queen community.
Together with their partner Patch, they have created a conversation around race and gender constructs through music videos, photoshoots, and philanthropic work.
Foe & Dear caught up with Kendall to learn more about their personal journey in drag, appreciation for peaceful meditation, and their love of giving back to others.
How was the drag name Kendall Gender born?
My name out of drag is ‘Kenneth’, So Ken-Doll/ Kendall is actually a nickname that I got in high school. So when I started drag it was kind of just a natural fit. The last name, is a play on words, to fit in with my obsession with pop culture, and to enforce the idea that gender is a construct.
What areas are you currently focusing your activism on?
For me drag and activism have always gone hand in hand. The bigger that my platform gets the more I want to do with drawing attention to issues. Over the pandemic, I have put on various fundraisers for Black lives matter, Rainbow Refugees, and most recently Covid Racism, which combats anti Asian racism in Canada.
How has drag been influential in your personal growth and artistic journey?
Drag and the community have honestly saved me. I feel so lucky to be the person I am and get to express myself through drag. I truly believe that little Kendall, lived inside of me my whole life – and it just took a pair of stilettos for her to truly come out.
"I think thanking the universe for what you have is a really beneficial way of remembering what is important, and even when things seem stressful, it's so valuable to remember all the good that you have in your life."
What makes you feel most like yourself?
In drag, I feel most like myself when I have my full body on, I love celebrating the full hourglass fantasy of my body, it makes me feel powerful! Out of drag, I would say a matching tracksuit is the epitome of me feeling like myself.
Self-love practices that calm your mind
I think exercise helps me a lot. I’m not like a fitness fanatic by any means, but a good simple workout helps release a lot of negativity in my mind, and allows me to refocus.
I also mediate, and give thanks a lot. I think thanking the universe for what you have is a really beneficial way of remembering what is important, and even when things seem stressful, it's so valuable to remember all the good that you have in your life.
Why did you choose the IRSSS for the charity of the season?
Over the past few months, we have seen so many tragedies coming to light within the indigenous community. I am forever grateful to be living on the indigenous land, and occupy space here. The Indian Residential School Survivor Society is an organization that provides services to Residential School Survivors.
Within this year we have seen countless remains of lost indigenous children because of the residential school system. Although it is impossible to turn back the hands of time, all we can do is slowly start to make amends for this destruction, and financial reparations are a good starting point.
What are you most grateful for in your life right now?
My chic beige apartment, my cat, and my partner.
Words to live by
"Inspire others, to be inspired."
Follow Kendall's journey here
Photos courtesy of Foe & Dear