Meet Jake, also known as Tara Zann. Later this year they are about to embark on a bodybuilding world first. After much research, it appears Jake will be the first bodybuilder to compete whilst in drag, in the world. While there are several bodybuilding drag queens around the world, it appears none do so whilst in drag.
Tara Zann: Breaking down barriers in Bodybuilding
Jake Donovan-Parker is a bodybuilder who has wanted to compete in this field for over four years now. Seeing himself as a serious competitor Jake wants to break down barriers for queer people in sporting spaces. “There are so many spaces and things that feel like they are off-limits for LGBTQIA+ people to enter or engage in. A lot of these spaces are traditionally cis heterosexual dominated environments. Some of the most common places this happens is in sport”, he says.
The sporting world is still an evolving space for queer people, especially when it comes to gender. Trans athletes are still facing backlash for their place in the sporting world. There is certainly still a long way to go. But Jake believes this issue goes much deeper as he explains. “Gays are stigmatised as people who are bad at sports and don’t like sports but that’s just not true for all and I think this idea is manufactured by queer people as a protection method. If we say we don’t like sports and convince ourselves it’s not for us, we aren’t hurt by being excluded from it.”
By participating, particularly so visibly Jake is hoping to play a part in creating more visibility and opportunities for queer people to participate in these spaces. “Of course, the root problem is a lack of acceptance in these places, which is homophobia plain and simple. I think lots of queer people would be involved in sports if they didn’t feel threatened in these environments or like they need to force themselves back into the closet and pretend not to be gay to participate. I am competing in drag to promote queer visibility and to show everyone that queer people are allowed to have passions outside of the status quo and that they should be taken seriously and accepted when they do.”
On the 30th of October Jake will compete in the INBA Australian Titles Pro/Am at the Nissan Arena in Brisbane. He will compete in the Sports Model and Physique categories and the INBA Angels. The first two categories will see Jake/Tara compete in the traditional outfit of Speedos or boardshorts. However, his hair and make up will be in full drag. Jake will enter this section of the bodybuilding competition as a standard competitor with no disadvantage for his appearance.
The INBA angels will be a slightly different situation. As Jake identifies as male he is not allowed to officially compete in the INBA Angels as this is a female-identifying category. Organizers have instead allowed him to compete symbolically, meaning he will compete but can”t win. Which may be a relief to his competitors.
Jake has spent 9 months crafting his look, with the help of his grandma. His outfit will comprise an impressive set of mechanically articulated wings and a set of angelic metallic armour with organza ribbons. With this look, he’s sure to stand out. Despite not being able to win this category Jake is upbeat.
“This category is not a bodybuilding or physique category per se and is all about the look and presentation, which means me being a male does not give me an advantage over the women in this category. Alas, fear of backlash from other competitors and coaches has meant that I am only allowed to compete in the category symbolically. Lucky for the girls competing because I was coming to snatch trophies! I want my community to be seen, accepted, and celebrated in all spaces they wish to enter.”
We can’t wait to see how Jake performs in the competition.
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