sick insults | 

Catholic drag queen hired for Queen's Jubilee party on Shankill Road targeted by far-right trolls

Jolene Bunting, who was suspended from Belfast City Council for a string of controversial comments, took offence at a drag queen performing at a family event.

Missy Onya Becks

Jolene tweet

Missy Onya Becks with fellow drag queens at the Shankill party

Drag queens at the Jubilee Pageant

Jolene's tweet

Former Belfast councillor Jolene Bunting protests with supporters against the Northern Ireland Protocol Credit: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX ...N

Steven Moore

A CATHOLIC drag queen who helped celebrate the Queen's Jubilee at a street party in the heart of the loyalist Shankill had to call the police to put an end to internet abuse.

And he's told controversial ex-councillor Jolene Bunting that the Queen has his back!

Missy Onya Becks had been booked to take part in the Queen's Jubilee event on the Shankill Road last weekend but the drag queen's appearance appeared to horrify former north Belfast TUV councillor Bunting.

Missy Becks' alter ego, 32-year-old Craigavon man Stephen Sherwin, pointed out drag queens had taken part in the Queen's Jubilee official event in London.

"If we're good enough for the actual Queen herself, we should be good enough for Jolene Bunting!" he told the Sunday World.

"I've hosted Pride events, performed with Kylie Minogue and raised loads of money for charities like Autism NI and the Rainbow Project."

Jolene tweet

Mr Sherwin called the police on Wednesday after loyalist Bunting posted a picture of him on Twitter as he performed his stage persona, famous Belfast drag act Missy Onya Becks, at a Queen's Jubilee event on the Shankill Road.

Bunting, who was suspended from Belfast City Council in 2018 for a string of controversial comments, took offence at a drag queen performing at a family event and claimed she was "disgusted".

She also said, "not even our Queens Jubilee Celebrations are safe from the sexualisation of our children".

"I was disgusted after taking my young kids along to this Jubilee event only to find a bloke wearing a thong and prancing around in front of young children," she added, signing off with the 'vomit' emoji and #LeaveOurKidsAlone

Drag queens at the Jubilee Pageant

Stephen says he asked her to remove the picture - though not the message - from Twitter after a number of her followers posted disturbing hate comments, including one who said he should be "burned on the bonfire" while others called him "sick pervert", "deviant" and "disgusting".

Disgraced ex-councillor Bunting took to Twitter on Wednesday night to bemoan that the police had just turned up at her home in north Belfast and had cautioned her after she refused to remove the photo.

Last night Stephen Sherwin, aka Missy Onya Becks, said he called the cops because he felt threatened and because when he approached Bunting himself, she removed his comment and blocked him on all social media platforms, refusing to engage.

Missy Onya Becks with fellow drag queens at the Shankill party

And he pointed out that drag queens were invited by the Queen to take part in her Platinum Pageant Jubilee Pageant last weekend.

"Some of the top drag queens were there by invite from the Queen which was brilliant and showed the Queen is capable of being inclusive," said 32-year-old Stephen last night.

"The Queen has my back! People like Jolene Bunting need to be more accepting. She shouldn't judge me without speaking to me or knowing anything about me."

During the event outside Buckingham Palace, a series of floats showcased standout moments of the monarch's life and how society has evolved.

For the 90s float, fans of BBC's Drag Race UK series were treated to appearances from Vanity Milan, Blu Hydrangea and Baga Chipz - who were all portraying 90s British icons Elizabeth Hurley, Geri Halliwell and Naomi Campbell.

Missy Onya Becks is one of Belfast's most popular drag queens and performs most weeks at Maverick on Thursdays and Libertine on Sundays.

Stephen Sherwin said he'd been invited to take part and help out with the hosting of the Shankill party last Saturday.

"It was a favour for a friend who contacted me and said they were struggling to host the event on their own and they wanted a drag queen to take part," says Stephen.

"I'm a Catholic and I thought should I really be going to the Shankill in full drag to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee and then I thought 'why not?'

Former Belfast councillor Jolene Bunting protests with supporters against the Northern Ireland Protocol Credit: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX ...N

"So I went, I did a one-hour show including a few songs, child-friendly songs like Time Warp, Ain't No Mountain High Enough and Do-re-mi from The Sound Of Music.

"It was a great event. I had a bit of craic with the crowd and people posed for pictures with me and I got some great feedback.

"The next morning, I woke up to be sent this tweet from a friend that Jolene Bunting had put up. At first I thought it was funny but then the comments people were making and she wasn't stopping them.

"I approached her and asked her to remove the picture, not the message, I believe in free speech and I can't stop her posting that but I wanted the picture down.

Jolene's tweet

"She ignored my tweet, deleted it and blocked me from all formats. She deleted all the comments that challenged her view and blocked anyone who didn't agree with her."

As well as people suggesting he should be burned on the bonfire, others falsely claimed Sherwin was a republican.

Others said they'd "punch him" if he went near their kids while other followers of Bunting suggested people should "start approaching" drag queens to "demand" their real identity as "it's the least parents are entitled to know if he's mingling with kids".

"The thing was I was wearing three pairs of tights, a corset and a leotard all you could see was my legs - there was no thong, I probably had more clothes on than a lot of others at the party.

"Jolene Bunting seemed to be getting mixed up about what drag queens are. She posting comments referring to us as 'he/she/it' which is really offensive to trans people. Drag queens are not trans, they have more in common with clowns.

"My stage persona is only when I'm working a gig. It's my job. I don't dress up like this for sexual thrills. I enjoy performing, I enjoy a good laugh and I love what I do.

"I thought this is supposed to be a politician but she seemed to be off her rocker," he says.

"The police were brilliant, really helpful and friendly. Shortly after they called at my house Jolene Bunting posted she had been given a caution for refusing to remove the picture.

"There I was, a Catholic prepared to go to the Shankill Road to help the Protestant community celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. That's got to be progress hasn't it?

"And I'm not going to let narrow-minded people like Jolene Bunting spoil it."

Between December 2017 and August 2018, 14 complaints were made against then Councillor Bunting, with one complaint signed by 87 individuals, and another by 79.

It is understood many of the complaints related to Ms Bunting's links with far-right groups, such as Britain First and Generation Identity, and her series of "UK Freedom" rallies at City Hall.

She received a four-month interim suspension from Belfast City Council. She appealed at the High Court but lost.

She stood again for Belfast City Council in May 2019 but received just 351 votes and lost her seat.

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