Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Drag History Month: No boys allowed? Or is it no girls?

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 having 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.

x posted midwestgenderqueer.com, AmplifyYourVoice.com

1 comment:

Dharma Kelleher said...

Amen, Midwest GenderQueer. How can we hope to eliminate oppression outside the community when we turn a blind eye to the oppression within the community? There needs to be room for all of us.