Apparently January is the 2nd annual National Drag History Month. A month-long event that “salutes the richness of drag culture and pays tribute to the courageous queens & kings who have fought for equality while inspiring, educating & entertaining us all.” Sounds cool right? But when you click the link you may feel the same disappointment I did in seeing that “drag history month” is nothing but a LOGO ploy for programming (also see excellent blog by Queerty). You may become depressed at the fact that the link itself has the word “franchise” in it. Or you may just be downright confused how there is not one mention of any female-bodied or gender transgressive/genderfuck performers. I guess National Drag History Month is for girls only… or is it for boys only because they are drag queens? Either way, WTF? Do drag kings have no history of doing anything? Not that LOGO would know either way because no actual history is ever talked about in the programming.
It is a common misconception that drag kings and genderfuck performers don’t exist, but we actually do. It isn’t like we aren’t out and about. Now days its hard to hit up a lesbian bar without finding some trace of drag kings or go to a queer space without at least some knowledge somewhere of genderfuck performers. Female bodied gender performers have been gaining speed and spectrum, in the past ten years especially, but still we get thrown to the back of the bar. Why? I remember when I was first getting into drag and I told my sister about a drag king show. Her response, not knowing any better at the time, was “Drag king? But isn’t the point of drag being flashy with sequins and glitter? Boy clothes are boring.” I responded with a very humble, “Well… but… I wear sequins too…”
Male bodied gender transgression has always been more visible, either because of guarding masculinity or simply because they are a lot taller. As a result so many female bodied performers have busted their asses with character, choreography, and costume and still never gotten to top the bill when queens are around. Now don’t get me wrong, I have some very dear friends who are queens, drag or otherwise. Some of my favorite performers are drag queens. That said, the constant removal of non-male bodied drag and gender performers from the drag movement, or even the queer movement, is fucking bullshit. Drag queens have long been a trademark representative of visual queerness, not because they are better in any way, but mainly because of the cultural dissonance caused by any male person “giving up” their masculinity for the less than desirable feminine presentation. I’m not saying drag queens haven’t been around the block, fighting the good fight. I’m just saying they weren’t the only ones there. Another element that I feel may contribute to the muffling of drag kings is the stereotyping of female-bodied queerness. it isn’t just straight porn projecting “straight looking” women fucking each other anymore. Shows like the L Word promote a gender-normative, hyper-sexualized female queerness that leaves no room for anything or anyone else. Who decided that genderfucked female bodies weren’t sexy? Homonormative, HRC pumping queer gentrification rears its ugly head again.
I emailed LOGO to ask them where all the drag kings, genderqueers, and transformers were in the Drag History Month programming. No response so far. In addition, I don’t know why I was surprised that their contact form asks for my identity (blanket “transgender” description included of course), my race, and my household income. Demographics demosmaphics, its fucked up and weird. Bitches don’t need to be all up in my business.
In closing, I would like to officially send out a public message to everyone involved in this drag “history” endeavor. As a female-bodied, gender fucking king performer here is my message:
x posted AmplifyYourVoice.com, TransgroupBlogs, GenderBlogs
3 thoughts on “Drag History Month: No boys allowed? Or is it no girls?”
Thank you so much for writing this!!! When I heard about drag history month I thought exactly the same thing. As a non normative drag performer myself I found it offensive. However I am slightly less eloquent with words. Fuck LOGO!!!! Stay Glam! <3
Drag queens get more noticed because what they do is shocking to mainstreamers. Why would any male born person give up the privileged birthright society bestows upon men and sink himself to the lowly level of female? We all know women are inferior. LOL!
When a female born person aspires to maleness, it’s considered moving up or bettering oneself. There’s even menswear for women. But of course there are limits as to how far society will let that person go before people start to get uncomfortable. Just maintain a level of femaleness and you’re okay.
Not so with male born persons. The instant they show any sign of femaleness, the firestorm begins. So to go to the extremes drag queens go is beyond shocking. So much so people are fascinated with it, not unlike society’s fascination with watching a star fall from grace.
And there’s the support drag queens get from the gay community and, to a lesser degree, from the lesbian and trans community. Maybe it’s applauding their courage to put it out there without fear of the consequences. Maybe it’s just their performances, although I have seen few drag queen performances that impress me. But there’s little doubt that causing shock within mainstream society causes some LGBTers to smile with satisfaction when they see shock with mouth agape from a phobe.
To be sure, drag is gay performance. They are not transsexuals, although there is an element of transgender, just not sure if it comes from their gender identity. And that could be another element in the fascination some have for drag queens. Is it a WTF? Maybe. But as long as it’s considered shocking to some, there will be an audience.
Sounds like it is up to queer performers and queer artists to start making our own history, start documenting and exhibiting drag kings. I will start by making a Drag King Calendar for 2011 :) Cheers!