Ask a transperson | What’s the deal with drag?
- Published: April 27, 2023
This is the third entry of “Ask a Transperson,” a temporary blog by News columnist Iden Crockett. She announced the blog in her regular News column, “My Name is Iden,” as a “space dedicated to answering your questions” about what it means to be trans — from Crockett’s perspective.
Thanks for this opportunity to ask about something that is bothering me.
While I respect the right of people to participate in and enjoy drag shows, I wonder whether they are a mockery of sorts — that they make fun of certain people we call women. Are they supposed to be funny? At whose expense?
Awesome question, and very well-timed, as drag has recently become something of a landmine to discuss in public.
Let me preface this by admitting that I have very little experience with the drag community and with drag as an art form. I have never performed drag, but I do enjoy drag performances.
As an audience member — a consumer of drag content, if you will — my experience of drag is that it is entertainment. It is performance art using a created character, not unlike mime or clowning. Drag performers and their characters come in every shape, race and gender. Like all things human, drag is diverse and the discussion of it should acknowledge and include that diversity.
Some performers’ characters are more caricatures, with very exaggerated looks and personalities. Others adopt a more subdued persona and perform some very personal and heartfelt pieces. Still others go for full on sexiness.
These characters are often used to explore and comment on sexuality, gender and the roles of those things in our lives, but drag is not limited to that. Drag can comment on societal issues like discrimination or personal stories of love and loss. I have even seen drag performers who are professional celebrity impersonators.
I can see how some performances could be taken on the surface as a mockery of the people portrayed, but I don’t believe that is the case. Drag is performed with love. The performers love their characters and they love the connections made with the audience. The art is very important to them and their expression of self. This love is what separates a drag performance from someone impersonating another gender purely for laughs — a la “Bosom Buddies” or something like a blackface performance.
Ultimately the interpretation of any art is left to the audience. This is my interpretation of the medium based on what I have seen of it and the performers that I have spoken with. I hope that helps!
Until next time my lovelies,
Know yourself, Be yourself, Show yourself, Free yourself.
2 Responses to “Ask a transperson | What’s the deal with drag?”
drag is just an easy distraction, a slight of hand. all of this is. the game is get everyone to look at the left hand while the right one picks your pocket. i am curious to see what they will use next. we’ve used everything from drag to radical islam to latino street gangs to communists. there aren’t many boogies left out there to scare us with. sooner or later we will all notice our missing wallets.
With all the problems of the world today, how is Drag even on the radar? Drag has been around as far back as the 1860’s.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you have to have seen RuPaul’s Drag Race which is wildly succesful and growing every day.
This is another issue where if laws are enacted, just how will they be enforced? I heard where down in good ole Alabama and Tennessee they are trying to pass a law saying you can’t have a drag show or be in drag around children? How will they enforce that? And what if a woman dresses as a man, will that be drag and banned also? Will there be “drag police” who go around checking the orientations of anyone they see who might be dressed a certain way? And what will the parameters be for these laws? What if a man dresses as a woman for Halloween, or likes to dress in drag for his own enjoyment, will these laws affect him? And how “drag” do you have to be before you are in violation? What if you just wear high heels, or maybe the occasional feather boa or any other article of closing that might confuse a poor witless keeper of the peace, will that be drag? Will it only be for drag shows sanctioned by the world drag committee? Is there a a drag committee?
It just makes my head spin when I think of these stupid unenforceable laws working their way into our society.
There are just so many bigger issues right now that need to be addressed. What are people afraid of?