I understand that a lot of people enjoy the world of drag and I’m really not one to bash something harmless that people are entertained by, but I’d be lying if I said that a part of me isn’t bothered by Drag queens. Many people my age are watching and enjoying RuPaul’s Drag Race. They enjoy the drama and the entertainment of it. But one has to question, could there be a harmful side to the world of drag?
I’m a fan of Panti Bliss. I recently attended an event where Rory O’Neill discussed his movie Queen of Ireland and the marriage referendum. I will not deny that he’s done amazing work as both Rory and Panti and I’m very grateful for that. Rory’s choice to campaign for the marriage referendum and for the gender recognition act has benefitted me as a transgender individual. In this instance I’m grateful that a drag queen has chosen to align herself with transgender equality, but something I often experience is a confusion between my gender transition and the art of drag.
Recently I had someone reach out to me and ask that I model drag makeup for them. I had to deny the request. I can’t associate myself with drag in this way. Also, if I’m being honest, I was a little insulted that this person would choose me to reach out to. It’s a common misconception that there’s a similarity between drag queens and individuals undergoing gender transitions, but there’s really no comparison. Drag queens enjoy an exaggerated version of femininity, an expression purely for entertainment value. But after one outfit change and more than a few make-up wipes, they go back (I presume) to living their lives as men. Whereas transgender females are living as women while having to constantly assert this fact to the people around them.
A couple of months ago, on a night out in Dublin, a friend and I wandered into a famous spot for drag shows. Neither of us were very enthusiastic about it, but we took a seat and decided to give the show a chance. Within five minutes we had to leave when the performer started picking out women in the audience and commenting on how slutty they looked. No thanks.
As far as I can see, that’s what a lot of drag resembles. Men dressing up as women with enormous wigs, exaggerated makeup and comically curvy bodies only to begin insulting one another and using misogynistic language. I could be wrong, but from where I’m standing, it looks like a mockery of femininity, making a joke out of being a female.
I’m aware that this isn’t always the case. I know little of Victoria Sin, but her drag supposedly does a lot for the feminist cause. But could the very art of drag just be doing damage to the step forwards that we are all trying to take for an equal society?
My point is not to discourage people from watching or enjoying drag. I’m not trying to condemn the joy that it may bring people. But if we really think about it. If we really think about what these performers are doing, is it still entertainment, or just nonsensical and perhaps harmful?