Paris drag queen attacked for her role in the Olympic torch relay

Paris (AFP) – A French drag queen chosen to take part in the Paris Olympics torch relay has faced online abuse and criticism from conservatives after being revealed in a video this week.

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Minima Geste, 33, has become the latest flashpoint of culture war at the Games following disputes over the opening ceremony music and the official Olympics poster.

“I reaffirm my full support for her,” Paris Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a statement on Friday.

“I will say it again: I am proud and, yes, Paris is proud that a drag queen carries the torch and the values ​​of peace and humanity,” she added.

The city said Geste had been the victim of “homophobic and transphobic slurs” and that it would help her take legal action.

The artist, who appeared Wednesday in a video message on social media, was chosen by the city as one of its torchbearers when the relay arrives in the capital on July 14 and 15.

“Having a drag queen carrying the torch — and maybe falling, wait and see! — is a huge source of pride,” said Geste, who wears 10-inch heels when she’s in costume.

“One of the messages I want to bring is pride in my community because 10 years ago having a drag queen carrying the torch would have been unimaginable,” added the LGBTQIA+ community activist.

He said performing as a drag queen in corsets and high heels was physically demanding, “but it’s not an Olympic sport yet,” adding that he had previously done wrestling and synchronized swimming.

Far-right politician Marion Marechal claimed that Geste was responsible for “particularly vulgar” and “hypersexualized” performances.

“I don’t think it’s a good way to represent France to the world,” he told TF1 on Thursday.

Marechal, along with other conservatives, including his aunt and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, were also outraged by rumors that Franco-Malian R&B superstar Aya Nakamura will perform during the opening ceremony on July 26.

Le Pen criticized Nakamura’s clothing, accused her of not singing in French and said an appearance by the artist would “humiliate” people.

The criticism, seen as racially motivated by critics such as Culture Minister Rachida Dati, underlined the difficulty of creating national unity around the Olympics in a country so sharply divided.

When the official poster was unveiled in March – an elaborate hand-drawn representation of Paris – the lack of a Christian cross atop the Invalides monument sparked a debate about the country’s heritage and identity.

The torch relay will begin on May 8 in Marseille before the start of the Games on July 26.