Thursday, September 21, 2023

The US has A Rich Drag History.

Here's why the art form will likely outlast attempts to restrict it 

y Scottie Andrew  April 29, 2023

My Note:This is an in depth look at "drag" in the US.  It discussed Julian Eltinge from 1917 to RuPaul's "Drag Race".  A must read...  Also, many may dislike CNN's political views, however, it has been a great supporter of our community during this period of Fascist-Republican attacks.


To many, the stereotypical image of a drag queen is one of a gay man dressed in exaggerated feminine getup, oversized wigs and heavy makeup. But drag's image  and history -- is far more complex.  
Joan Jett Blakk,
pictured during her
San Francisco mayoral run in 1999.
She ran for US president in 1992

Drag is a grand dame in a glittering gown, commanding the stage with a power ballad or disco classic. Drag is also an underground performer twirling onstage to Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach."

It's the glitzy cast of "RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars" and small-town performers with dedicated local followings. It's a queen named Meatball dressed as a ghoulish exaggeration of George Santos, singing the "Greatest Showman" anthem "This is Me," and a king named Mo B. Dick in a firetruck-red pompadour and drawn-on goatee. It's cisgender and trans men, trans and cis women and nonbinary people. Its performers are gay and straight. It's masculine and feminine; it's neither or both.  

"Drag is the theatrical exaggeration of gender," said Joe E. Jeffreys, a drag historian and adjunct instructor at New York University, who noted that the artform constantly subverts "what people think they know about gender." 

Drag queens have long been leaders
in the queer liberation movement

At its core, drag is an art form that for over a century has affirmed and uplifted LGBTQ people who perform and enjoy it. But this year in particular, some US states have attempted to impose legislative measures that would impact where and when drag can be performed. In Tennessee, where the most restrictive measures to date were passed in March, people who perform in drag in an area where children could see them could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. (The ban was temporarily blocked hours before it was expected to be implemented.)  

"Queer people have always found creative ways to resist the violence of their experience and norms that have tried to restrict our ability to live freely in the world," Testa said. "Drag is a process of that resistance. These communities formed as a response to harassment, exclusion and violence. I'm hopeful in the sense that we've done this before -- we never stopped doing it." 

Drag has survived for as long as it has because it's always been a vessel for expression for queer and trans people who've had to carve their own paths. It's why Alaska Thunderf**k, the blonde bouffanted winner of the second season of "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars," first got into drag -- to make art that wasn't bound by rules. That, she said in an email, and to have pure, unadulterated fun.  

"The great thing about drag is that the second you think you've got it figured out, it changes and turns into something else," Alaska wrote. "That's why we'll always survive." 

1 comment:

  1. agree with this piece but CNN is circling the drain i.e. last weekend's viewership was 50,000.
    GOP is on a stupid path re: drag etc but the term fascist is a misnomer