Kawsar Zant, a 20-year-old Palestinian drag queen from Jerusalem, stepped on stage at the Duplex Club in Jaffa, donning a loose-fitting graduation dress with a large Palestinian flag stitched on the front. Najwa Karam’s “Lashhad Hobak” (“Begging for Your Love”) blared from the speakers, and Kawsar lip-synched and shook her hips. When the beat quickened, she suddenly tore off her graduation dress from Al-Quds University in the occupied West Bank, revealing a short silver number underneath.
Kawsar’s cheering friends threw a rosary from the crowd. She caught it and started dancing dabke – a traditional Palestinian dance. “The dabke steps were specifically for men, but I was dressed as a woman wearing a short dress,” Kawsar told The Electronic Intifada with a mischievous giggle.
Kawsar is part of a burgeoning Palestinian drag scene in Jaffa and Haifa, involving Palestinians from all over historic Palestine – from Jerusalem to Umm al-Fahm, in present-day northern Israel.
“I am prouder than ever to be Palestinian and a drag queen in this political situation,” Kawsar said, noting that her shows and visibility are challenging Israel’s attempts at pinkwashing decades of colonization and its more than half-century occupation of Palestinian territory. “I am also challenging the old Palestinian way of thinking of what men and women must be,” she added.