As a drag queen, Twitch partner, MAC aficionado and creator of #teamstreamqueens, Deere is the rising star of queer video game streaming and a figure of kindness and support in the community. Not only was she the first US drag queen to be made a partner on Twitch, she recently visited DragCon L.A. for a special panel event on drag queens and gaming and marched with MAC Cosmetics for San Francisco Pride.
I caught up with Deere to discuss her spooky, sexy drag, and staying positive in the face of internet trolls.
Ed: Happy Pride! How has Pride month been for you?
Deere: Pride Month has been amazing. I’ve been able to find some cool opportunities and it seems like most of them have been released in public during Pride month. So it couldn’t have come at a more fitting time: it’s summer, it’s fun and it’s Pride. I have a lot to be prideful for and I’m just happy to share everything.
You recently attended DragCon LA in some fierce gaming looks and took part in a panel event on gaming and drag. Why do you think they go together?
Gaming and drag to me go hand in hand. As a kid I played fighting games with these over the top characters who are not within the realm of real life. They are so exaggerated they could only be drag queens.
Video games are escapism and whatever is going on in your life you can delve into this new world. It doesn’t matter the hardships that you’re going through because you can forget it for a second. And to me drag is very similar. You can put on this costume and become a whole new person for the night; you can forget everything that’s happening and just live a new life for this moment in time.
How does it feel to be a Twitch partner?
It’s amazing! I love to put myself in drag, I love to stream in drag. For people out there to like what I do and want to support what I do, and for Twitch as a corporation to support what I do publicly and proudly, it’s such an honour. I have no words!
Do you feel that Twitch is supportive of LGBT and drag streamers?
Oh absolutely. I believe I’m the first Twitch partner that is a drag queen in the US. Twitch has always wanted to be diverse and inclusive, and anybody can be partnered as long as they are positive and kind and putting out a good vibe. I would say that Twitch has been so kind to me. I’ve met so many people who work for Twitch… I think they really strive to be inclusive and as long as you’re positive they support that content.
How did your interest in streaming come about? Why did you decide to stream in drag?
I’ve always had drag and queer culture as an interest but I wasn’t really delving into it myself. Along with that, video games were always a big interest of mine. In 2016 I wanted to do drag but I didn’t really have an avenue to take with it. I wanted to be a drag queen but in a way that made sense to me and my values. So I didn’t want to go out to the club, or go out and lip sync. And I thought why not be a drag queen that plays video games? I had never seen it before.
Since starting it I have discovered people who do similar things, but at the start I thought it would be an awesome unique idea and it would be combining my two favourite things, living my dream!
How would you describe your drag?
I want to say silly, spooky, sexy but I think Sharon Needles has said that before?! I like to be silly and dorky in personality, but I want to look regal and beautiful and maybe a little bit ‘resting bitch face’. I want a juxtaposition.
Have any gaming characters inspired your drag looks?
To be very specific, I love Poison from Final Fight and Street Fighter. I dressed as her at DragCon. I was almost shaking putting on the costume. I’ve loved this character ever since I saw her. Before I even knew who she was I was like “who’s this fierce bitch?”. And then I found out later that she has this super cool story of being a trans woman and being this badass gang member. I just love everything about her and it was so exciting to become her for a day.
I think any game with a badass female who gets what she wants and doesn’t take any guff from the boys, that’s inspiring to me. Especially if you mix in LGBTQIA values in there it’s like BAM! Love her.
What games do you prefer to stream and why?
Any weird or scary game is my favourite to play. I have a very calm demeanour and I can handle jump scares and scary content really well. It’s really fun to be on the edge of your seat but also have the entire chat confused as to why I’m not jumping. Because I can really handle those jump scares. It’s just a game!
Recently I’ve played Unforgiving, it’s a scary first person exploration game based on Swedish myths. I’ve also played The Missing, which is a really cool game I played for Midboss’ Summer of Pride, they had an event where they were featuring LGBTQIA streamers playing queer involved games.
How have viewers reacted to you streaming in drag?
Generally speaking it’s very cool because people that love drag or love queer streamers they come in and they’re like “I never knew this is existed, this is everything I ever wanted”. I started streaming because I have this interest in video games and drag and if I have the interest, someone else has the interest. Online you can find your community no matter what it is.
I couldn’t be luckier to say I have parents who have been 100% supportive of everything I’ve ever done. That’s why when I’m streaming I make sure that my chat is safe and everybody feels supported and can be themselves. I try to extend a space, take what I have and share it, because it can be so hard.
How do you deal with trolls?
I think that a troll’s number one goal is to get you flustered and get you bothered, and I will never give that to a troll. I’m very blasé. I think it’s best to feign ignorance like I don’t know what you’re saying. Or it’s powerful to not read it at all, to literally read everything around it.
I can’t physically moderate my own channel when I’m in drag but I have people who do it for me. If someone is casually rude or underhand my mods have an eye on it, but if they’re outright hateful or use hate speech or are extremely rude my mods will just ban them.
Often people misgender me on purpose to be transphobic, because they assume that I’m trying to pass as female which I’m not I’m just playing a role. I just make a joke of it. It’s good to handle it with grace and positivity and love and just try to keep it all in a positive space. They want a rise, why would I give them a rise?
What advice would you give to other gaymers wanting to start a streaming channel?
Definitely find a moderation team. As a gay man, as a drag queen, as an LGBTQIA public figure on the Internet, I will always get trolls and people questioning my content. So I knew that I needed at least one person to help support me. Find a person to have your back as a moderator, it’s just as easy as deleting someone or banning someone when they try and be hateful.
Streaming definitely takes an investment, but whatever you have, use your resources. I was using a broken PS2 as a pedestal [for my laptop], I had toy boxes as a stand for my camera, my camera was a PS3 Eye that I got from goodwill. I didn’t have the most expensive setup but I wanted to make it work so I did. It doesn’t have to be the cleanest stream, it doesn’t have to have the best FPS, it doesn’t need to be this big spectacle.
A third piece of advice: just be yourself. At first glance I’m definitely not putting out myself to my stream, but I’m putting out the content that I want. I’m able to be a dork, I’m able to be silly, I’m able to use drag as a form of self-expression. So be yourself and you’ll attract people who love it.
What other LGBT streamers would you recommend?
All of them?! I created #TeamStreamQueens team on Twitch. It unifies drag queens, kings, characters and creatures on Twitch so people can find them all in the same place. It makes drag more discoverable for viewers that love drag.
Last month was E3, what games are you most looking forward to streaming in the future?
There are two: Animal Crossing (I’m so excited!) and Blair Witch. It’s from the same people who made Layers of Fear and Observer and I loved those games. It looks so good!
If you could pick one game to stream for eternity, what would it be?
I’ll say Illbleed. Illbleed was one of the last games to come out on the Dreamcast and it is a trip girl! It is one of the weirdest games I’ve ever seen in my life. There are strong female characters you can play as, you’re a badass bitch, it’s got the craziest blood and gore effects, it’s got amazing music, and it’s just weird!
Where can our readers follow you?