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In the sixth episode of our I’m a Londoner series, we spoke to Ruby Codiroli, a.k.a. Justin Bond, a drag king who champions inclusivity and performs with Drag Syndrome, a London-based collective of drag artists with Down’s Syndrome.

“We are professional artists; we deserve respect and love,” explains Codiroli. “We don’t want haters – we want people to love us and be our friends.”

Down’s Syndrome affects about 750 babies born in the UK each year. It doesn’t discriminate, affecting people of all genders, races and ages.

Formed in 2018, Drag Syndrome enables performers to take on an entirely new persona. The transformation process allows members to cast away the stereotypes that surround their condition and allow audiences to see them as the artists they are.

The group’s dedication to the craft has led the collective to become respected in the field and has seen them perform at festivals and events around the world.

Drag has strutted its way into the mainstream over the past few years with RuPaul now starting Drag Race engines on laptops, TV and mobiles around the world. Its ostentatious and unapologetic nature makes it the perfect method for breaking down stigmas and building a close-knit community.

Here, Ruby Codiroli tells us why she’s so passionate about drag and how her condition won’t stop her or the rest of the Drag Syndrome crew from living their dreams.

I’m a Londoner and I’m a drag king. My drag persona is Justin Bond – he’s really handsome and has all the men.

It feels great to transform. What I like about drag is being Justin Bond because I like the transformation, I like seeing how I turn into a man.

My first drag show was completely incredible. It was the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole life.

I just want everyone to know that we are the most amazing artists in Drag Syndrome. We’re the perfect company with lots to choose from and lots of sassiness! Remember, we also have uniqueness, nerve and talent – that’s what we have the most.

I always warm up before a show because, mate, I’m a lip sync assassin. I can find it a bit hard when I’m dancing because I do burn a lot of energy when I dance, and I have asthma so sometimes it can have an effect on my show.

To all the people who don’t think we should be doing this: I don’t give a s*** what you think because we deserve to perform. We deserve to do what we do.

Always believe in yourself and in your soul. We went to do a show, Grand Rapids and outside the window there were a few protesters who were saying: “You can’t do the show! You can’t do the show! We hate Drag Syndrome!” Are you f***ing kidding me? We’re not gonna let that happen, no way. We deserve the right to perform, we deserve to be who we are and everyone out there performing in Grand Rapids – they’re artists! That’s what we’ve got to do; that’s who we are.

If you want to be one of us, then be one of us! If you’re scared and want to perform, just hold my hand and I’ll protect you the whole time. If you’re really scared or shy then I can always teach you meditation, relaxation to help you become more confident. You can be a drag anything you want, just come be with us!

Hi, I’m Justin Bond. I’m very kind, very generous and very giving. If you need anything at all, just call Justin Bond *winks*.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, I’m a Londoner will be taking a short break but will be back soon with more uplifting tales from the people who make the capital what it is.

I’m a Londoner is a new weekly series from the Standard. Make sure you don’t miss out by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you would like to take part in the series or have someone in mind that you’d like to nominate, please contact mar.campdepadro​