Ross Bickerdike (also known as INK Queen on his social media) is a 23-year-old drag queen and freelance videographer based in Millom, Cumbria. Ross makes a variety of TikTok’s and Instagram content that showcase his endless creativity and stunning drag looks. Ross was also featured on the BBC 3 documentary ‘I’m Coming Out’ which focused on his experience of what it was like to come out in Cumbria and how coming out in a rural place differs to coming out in a city.
We caught up with Ross to discuss how he first got into drag, his thoughts in coming out in a rural area and what inspires and influences him…
Firstly- we’re obsessed with your drag, every look, Instagram and TikTok you do is completely stunning! Could you tell us about how you first got into drag and what drag means to you?
Thank you! I feel like I’ve always been doing drag in my mind because when I was younger, I’d always use towels as dresses and wigs and I’ve always danced and lip synced around my kitchen so I knew at some point when I was older, I’d get into it properly. I first got into doing drag as I am now almost a year ago, we’d been in lockdown a month or so and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to buy some makeup and see if years of watching drag makeup tutorials would pay off…it didn’t, I looked terrible. But I stuck at it and got better! To me drag is just another form of art like painting or drawing, it’s something fun and artistic to allow you to be creative. But drag also embodies the exploration of gender, I like that it makes people uncomfortable and makes you think about who/what you’re looking at because life should never be so binary.
What inspires and influences your drag? What made you decide to take your drag to TikTok and Instagram?
Anything theatrical influences and inspires my drag, I love musical theatre. Lady Gaga is also a big inspiration, I’ve seen her perform live a couple of times and I want to be able to entertain people in the same was she does with costume, dancing, wigs, music, lighting. The reason I took my drag to social media primarily was because I like creating digital art, I went to Uni to study Media and Performance so a lot of what I know is in creating videos/photos.
What advice would you give to a young person in Cumbria looking to start doing drag?
I’d say start practicing as soon as you have an interest in doing it, don’t wait years. And if that means only doing your makeup when there’s no one else home, go for it! I could be 8+ years into doing drag if I’d have started when I first knew what it was properly.
We understand that you’re a freelance videographer. Tell us about your journey into this career (This can include education, etc.,)
I mainly edit freelance and do videography here and there, this started when I knew I wanted to move back to Cumbria from Salford but knew that the opportunities to work in media in Cumbria wouldn’t be as vast as it would in a city, I wanted to create the opportunities for myself. So that’s why I went into working freelance and since then I’ve made videos for small and large companies as well as making short films with primary school kids at after school classes.
You were featured in BBC 3 Documentary ‘I’m Coming Out’ could you tell us about this experience and your coming out story?
Before I came out myself I’d always watch people on YouTube coming out to their parents and I knew I wanted to do something similar, so when the opportunity to be involved in ‘I’m Coming Out’ came around I thought it was perfect. It made my coming out experience a little easier because I had this exciting project pushing me forward to do it, the fact I was sharing my story with people made the coming out journey feel less lonely and hidden away. So, when the day came I set up the cameras and came out to my parents on film which then got seen by a lot of people on TV. I didn’t have one bad reaction from my family and the response online was even better.
Do you think that coming out in a rural place like Cumbria has additional complications? (E.g., difficulty finding other LGBTQIA+ people, isolation, older homophobic attitudes etc.)
I do think being in a rural area can complicate coming out even more, especially in the years leading up to it. Although there are plenty of openly LGBTQIA+ people in Cumbria, there aren’t as many as there are in London, Manchester etc. Growing up in a diverse area exposes you to all different types of people and it allows you to see who you resonate with, so if you grow up in an area where you’re only exposed to one type of person you feel different and that’s when the worry of not fitting in and feeling like different is wrong sets in and you sit with it for years.
Do you think we need to do more here in Cumbria to support the LGBTQIA+ community and support young people wanting to come out?
Not only in Cumbria, in the whole world we just need to change our attitudes towards people that don’t fit the mould of straight and white. People are different and if we all accepted everyone for who they are without question there wouldn’t need to be support programmes or specific help. However, we’re not there yet and especially going to school in Cumbria I know that LGBTQIA+ topics weren’t really discussed as much as they should be, I’m sure it’s different now as that was 6+ years ago but just to be taught that different people exist would help a lot.
What future plans and goals do you have for yourself, your drag and your career?
With my drag I want to be more ambitious with what I create and I definitely want to perform live which is already on the cards as I’m part of Whitehaven Theatre Group’s production of ‘Kinky Boots’ in September. I want to keep creating new and exciting things whether that’s in my career or in drag and hopefully inspire others to lead the path they want to.