By Hollis Taylor
Why is drag so important to the lgbtq community as a whole? This is something I have written about before but as I dive deeper into the community I find myself thinking about this more and more.
Kate Bornstein addressed drag in her book “The Gender Outlaw” regarding drag as an expression of gender in itself and often a bit jester like. Jesters have often lead communities into change, in this case its about gender. Gender is a social construct that has ended up being used to oppress certain parts of our community as a whole, our world. Why are men displayed as tough and emotionless? Women are displayed as helpless and delicate. Regardless of your denial of gender as a social construct most of us can see where the issues are. A gay young male bodied person is growing up that happens to enjoy dressing up is regarded as a sissy and even worse. A young lesbian female bodied person that enjoys a more masculine expression of themselves is often seen as undesirable by her other female bodied sisters and encouraged to wear more “make up” or “dresses” in order to be more desirable. A person feels like they just don’t understand gender or it bends around for them, maybe they feel like their gender doesn’t match their genitalia and in our world it confuses them. We are pushed into these boxes at a very young age. Think about when someone has a baby, often the first question is regarding their genitalia and assumed gender expression.
Drag Queens and Kings bend gender all over the place. Many of us in the drag community disregard gender roles of all sorts. We lack the vocabulary but its really always been there. On my journey I have encountered many veterans in the drag community and again you find the same theme. Gender is pushed, its bent…. on purpose. Most of us in drag are behind the idea that gender is fluid, not binary.
Drag opens doors for gender questioning folks, those folks out there that need to explore before they transition or don’t. I know there are many of us that wonder…. “should I take hormones” and drag gives us an opportunity to try on the uniform before we make a more permanent decision. In many cases transgender people emerge from within the community and the drag community welcomes them with open arms. I know in the past it was an issue but these days it seems there is a place for post transition drag queens and possibly Kings if we can awaken enough of them.
I was filled with a full heart when I realized I had found a community where GenderQueer was more understood than lesbian. Many queens find it refreshing to have a word for those among us that enjoy the bending of gender, that don’t like to stand on either side of the binary social construct. There is a community for us, come on out all you gender questioning people and lets tread the path to a gender fluid future. Let’s have some fun while we are at it!
This weekend I performed at a local college, Elizabethtown College, for the LGBTQ Allies “Lifes a Drag Show”. I found myself among young supporting individuals and some gender questioning individuals. I was so happy to have the opportunity to even present another option, even as an example. I know when I was questioning there was very little at my fingertips, most of it was online. It would have been fantastic to have someone available to talk to about any of it. Gender is not something to be ashamed of, its merely an expression of yourself – however you choose to do it, or don’t choose for that matter. I was really honored to see so many supportive young people to support the cause but to also appreciate a often misunderstood and overlooked artform. So a shout out to all you young people at Elizabethtown College, Amazing Job!!! Keep it up!