As October dawns many within our community look forward to “National Crossdressing Day”, AKA Halloween. My first foray into the land of femininity was just that and represented many years of secretly wanting an outlet for a person I knew as Rhonda. No greater escape ever occurred in my world as the day I stepped past a door and into the outside world.
I always knew in my head the person Rhonda (yet unnamed) was to be; professional, well dressed, and respectful of the females in her life. After all “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery" according to Charles Caleb Colton quote (1780–1832).
I have always seen femininity as a place I longed to visit. When finally I entered the realm, I knew that I would want to return again and again. Who knows – maybe someday a permanent resident. One cannot visit a place and disrespect the culture, dress, and spirit. Assimilation occurs when one respects native attitudes and history.
Blackface has reared it’s ugly face recently. (pun intended) Some of the recent controversies have included public figures, such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Youthful indiscretion at best that shows a lack of judgement. Or worst, gross insensitivity to African-Americans. Blackface reinforced white people's notions of superiority and depicted black people as lazy, ignorant, cowardly or hypersexual.
At issue are dehumanizing stereotypes. I bring up a 2015 Facebook post from Mary Cheney, the openly lesbian and actively Republican daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. She was outraged and comparing drag to blackface. Here’s what she wrote about “men who entertain in drag”:
Why is it socially acceptable—as a form of entertainment—for men to put on dresses, makeup and high heels and act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc.)—but it is not socially acceptable—as a form of entertainment—for a white person to put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African Americans? Shouldn’t both be OK or neither? Why does society treat these activities differently?
In the Slate article, "Drag Isn’t Like Blackface. But That Doesn’t Mean It’s Always Kind to Women", the following statement was made. “Beneath her ham-fisted language, Cheney was asking a question all queens and conscientious drag fans must contend with at one point or another: Is drag degrading to women?”
My take: Personally, I do not consider Rhonda’s Escapes as drag and never have. I do not consider the clothing I wear to be a costume. I have never cared for drag performances and stay clear of "Gay Pride” events because some of the presenter’s costumes are “an insult to femininity.”
So as you consider your Halloween Escape, represent your desired destination of refuge well.