From Despair to Drag: How performance helped save my life | Laura Phillips | TEDxDicksonStreet

Hobbies can be helpful when dealing with life's challenges, chronic illness, and mental health. Most people don't have hobbies that involve heavy makeup, elaborate wigs, rhinestones, and glitter. But Laura Phillips is not "most people." Political activist and co-founder of For Fayetteville, the group that campaigned to pass the city’s LGBTQ rights act in 2015, Laura Bell Phillips struggled with crippling depression and anxiety for years before finding an outlet in Diva Drag (the art of drag performed by women) in Spring 2015. She performs as Kandy Kakes Monroe in Fayetteville and Fort Smith and founded Fayetteville’s Drag Queen Story hour. A tireless advocate for social justice and the redeeming power of love, she has officiated over 100 weddings including the first same sex wedding in Arkansas and stood up for countless people with the aim of making the world a more just and compassionate place. She has been described by her friends as “Xena Warrior Princess wrapped in rainbows and glitter”. Laura will be speaking on how performing as a drag queen has helped her body image and self-confidence and has been a boost to her mental health. Bell Phillips lives in south Fayetteville with her unique family and her tiny dog. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at