Most teenage kids have the usual ideas about what they want to do when they leave school, whether it’s becoming a painter, a vet, a doctor or even owning a monkey sanctuary ..or was that last one just me? However, young Jamie Campbell from County Durham has other ideas, spending his younger years stealing his and hiding his mum’s clothes whilst dreaming of a life on stage dressed as a woman.
Alongside his trusty dog, named after his idol Dita Von Teese (who herself grew up wanting to be a burlesque dancer), the 16 year-old takes us on a journey as he gets ready to announce his secret pastime to the world by wearing a dress to his school prom.
It’s a courageous move for someone so young in such an insular community, and one that certainly ruffles a few feathers, with some conservative parents branding the youngster’s plans ‘disgusting’. Frankly, I’m in agreement with one of Jamie’s family members in her reaction to these comments: “For [email protected] sake, it boils my piss!” While we ponder that exclamation for a minute or so, we have to admit that we agree with the woman’s sentiment that Jamie is old enough to make his own choices.
However, comments like this are unfortunately not rare, with many people finding the whole concept of dressing up as a woman weird. Putting these aside, what’s interesting from the programme is Jamie’s viewpoint on his fascination with dressing up, something that many drag queens will no doubt relate to. It’s not about wanting to actually become a woman, but the desire to wear dresses , skimpy clothes and make up, and get on stage and entertain. He explains that when he’s dressed up as a member of the opposite sex, he is able to leave his worries behind and become confident, sexy, and often outrageous.
Each to his own in my opinion, and with the 16 year-old not causing anyone any pain, why not live and let live? It’s touching to see his classmates do exactly this, but slightly worrying to see his school hanging the pupil out to dry, reluctantly letting Jamie into the prom because all the other children refused to go in without him.
As a viewer you really can see how hard it is for Jamie to feel accepted and fit in with a society that often pours scorn with those with alternative lifestyles. Luckily he has a fantastic mother who is behind him all the way, and some great friends who support him as well. It’s a shame the same can’t be said for his absent father, who accuses his son of ruining the prom night for all the other children by wearing a dress. But as Jamie says.. “Why let the bullies win?” Indeed.