So, today’s post is slightly selfish of me, but it raises to me an interesting possible debate.
Every year my organization holds a Drag Show, with 100% of our profits going to benefit the AIDS Resource Center of Ohio. It brings in over a thousand dollars, and it’s our most popular event of the year. We fly in a notable drag queen to emcee for us, and then we have acts from numerous local talents, students, and our E-Board members, with a finale of everyone in our organization with the testicular fortitude to jump up on stage with us. Well the strangest thing happened this year… somehow I ended up on the E-Board. Crap. I have to do a number…
OK, so my first fear in this is “Oh my God I am not getting up on stage, I have huge calves that no dress can hide, I can’t dance, I’m gonna look like a fool! And I’m going to do all this in a dress?!” And my second thought is “Oh my God, what number should I do? I could rock some old school Janet… ooh or what about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Oh, I’ve got it! Coin Operated Boy! Shit, I don’t have a boy to BE coin operated! Oh my God, what am I doing for choreography?” (The spaz session continues, but I’ll spare you the rest.)
So being me I’ve been talking everyone’s ear off about this prospect, and met with some surprising results. First, I’ve been told I’d make a good drag queen… which I’m still unsure if that’s a compliment or an insult. I’ve been told it’ll be funny… sometimes that’s just the message I get when I tell someone and they immediately guffaw. But I’ve also been told that drag is gross, and disgusting. Or creepy. Or “wrong”. Um, what? I’m dressing up to put on a show to raise money for AIDS research and treatment. Lots of people do it. Birds do it, bees do it, heck even educated fleas do it (Oh my God maybe I should do THAT song!). What’s wrong with drag?
Well, from talking to people, and mind you this is almost exclusively within the LGBT community that I’ve discussed this, people find it creepy because they can’t tell who’s what underneath, or they think it’s just “weird to do”, and one of my friends says she hates the idea because she thinks guys in drag make hot girls sometimes and that could get weird. OK, that third one I can almost get on board with… I mean I’ve seen some drag kings that if I had a few drinks with mistakes could happen. But hey, there are trans men I think are hot, and there’s nothing wrong with that right? I mean some of you guys reading this were at Camp last year… remember Justin Timberlake? I know I do! Wink wink…
But I have to wonder where this drag-phobia is coming from. Is some of it transphobia as well? Even within our community I see and hear people putting forth the message that “men should be men and women should be women”… which is funny because your girlfriend is wearing a backwards ball cap, has a hoop earring coming out of her lip, and owns more Abercrombie polos than I even thought that store MADE. My stepdad would definitely have a few colorful words to say about that.
And on another note, since when does drag = trans? From my experience, there is some correlation. I know in Dayton a lot of transwomen do drag for money, because there’s not many places around us that will treat them as employable people like anyone else. So yeah for us there’s a higher correlation of trans people doing drag than honestly there SHOULD be. Hell, some of them even just enjoy it. It looks fun doesn’t it? It’s like high class (admittedly sometimes not as high class… Buff Faye? Yeah, you know what I’m talkin about…) karaoke, plus a fashion show. I like both those things! But trans is not drag, and drag is not trans. Drag is performance, and fun, and entertainment. Trans is life. Trans is identity. Trans is the realization of who you really are.
And as far as this disdain or discomfort goes with people not acting like they “should”… shouldn’t we be a little more receptive to that? Or does tolerance and advocacy only extend as far as we must push it to include ourselves?
Hopefully some people jump in on this discussion, I think it’s definitely something worth getting other opinions on. I’ll admit my experience and knowledge in this area is vague at best, and likely ignorant. So please, educate me!
Also… anyone have any ideas for my performance? Pretty please?