I was struggling to come up with something to write about for today’s #FoodForThoughtFriday, because I didn’t want to write something political (because that’s being covered by plenty of other people) but I still wanted to put something out there that would encourage thought.
On the way home from work, it hit me. Drag.
I really don’t know why I started thinking about drag performances on the way home from work. Maybe a song on the radio reminded me of one of the couple of drag performances I’ve seen, I don’t know. But the point is, today I’m going to talk about drag queens/kings/performers.
So, in my life, I have seen 2 real drag shows. One was at a local place called Godfrey’s where they offer drag brunches on weekends, and the other was at my College during my sophomore year as part of the “Gender Bender Cabaret,” which was a super short-lived thing that the Musical Theatre group wanted to have annually, but got shut down after a super questionable performance by the soccer team or something.
I have seen drag in other places, like the Frederick Pride festival the past two years and informally as part of theatrical performances, but I’m going to mainly focus on these two shows because they form the core of my experience with drag.
Anyway, I actually don’t really like watching drag performances. They’re like super duper spectacular (I mean the literal definition as well as the connotation that that word gets) and it overwhelms me. Also, at my first drag performance, one of the queens like almost outed me when I was not at all prepared to be out which caused it to be a really negative experience, and even now when I’m pretty much fully out and completely comfortable with my sexuality (and writing about it online, apparently) it makes my tummy and heart feel funny. My second drag show was a much better experience (except the super questionable performance by the soccer team) that involved 2 drag kings and 1 drag queen and that was a defining moment for me (bc I basically fell in love with one of the kings–see featured photo).
But regardless of whether I enjoy watching drag performances, I really love the concept of drag. It’s a great way to take the weird societal norms surrounding gender and turn them completely on their head. This is a huge deal, especially as society is approaching a place where it’s more common to accept people who don’t identify as one gender or the other or whose gender identities don’t align with the sex that was assigned to them at birth. I could write more about this, but I don’t want to get too deep into the feminist and gender theory behind drag performance because I want this to be accessible to anyone who comes across it. If you’re into feminist theory and want to read more about drag and gender roles, Judith Butler has done some top notch writing on the topic, and you can read some of that in her books Gender Trouble, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limit of “Sex,” and Undoing Gender. Her work centers a lot on the differentiation between sex, gender, and sexuality (which are all different things) and drag performance comes up a lot in it. Her writing is a bit dense, however, so if you’re not super well-versed in feminist theory, you might have a bit of a difficult time reading it (I mean, even the professor who taught the course in which I first read her work admitted to struggling a bit with it, and she had a PhD in like philosophy and gender studies).
In short, I love the concept of drag, even as the actual execution of it overwhelms my senses and brings back weird memories and feelings for me. I’ve also considered becoming a drag performer because it just looks like a lot of fun, but have never actually gone through with it; for now I’ll stick to subverting gender norms in other ways, like by not shaving my legs and armpits or just wearing clothes that are made for men (bc they’re frequently more comfortable anyway). Nothing is too small, right?
The Fierce Feminist