The history of drag is fascinating, but this isn't a history lesson. This is about the future and how the art of drag needs to change, because everything needs to change as we become more enlightened and move into the future.
There is a big misnomer that the LGBTQA+ community is one happy family, but really there is a lot of in-fighting and non-acceptance.
If you are not familiar:
L - Lesbian
G - Gay
B - Bisexual
T - Transgender
Q - Queer/Questioning
A - Asexual
+ - Is everything else...
And there is a lot of everything else. For instance, I identify as Pansexual, Non-Binary—Pansexual, means I love all combinations of genders and genitals, and am more attracted to someone’s mind and personality then gender/genital combination. Non-Binary means that I don't conform or identify as one gender, even though I was assigned female at birth.
Within the community there is a lot of segregation. I'm going to use some us/them terminology for a bit to get a point across, I assure you I do not feel this way, but it illustrates the point the clearest. Straight society has a tendency to throw all the “others” together and is often clueless to the fact that the “others” do not always support each other; the larger the city the more in-fighting there seems to be. Gay men do not always stand up equally for lesbians, bisexual folks are often ridiculed for their perceived indecision, and transgender people often wonder where they fit in. So, we find safe pockets. Grand Rapids is a wonderfully sized city—not so big that we are radically divided, not so small that we don't exist.
I grew up thinking I was bisexual because I was attracted to both genders, but I always felt there was more to my sexuality that than just that. Pansexuality, and the vastness of the gender spectrum, was not yet on my radar. As I have learned more about the trans community—concepts, terminologies, and identifying factors—I have been able to find a place and identity where I feel at home.
Part of that journey is the story of how I started performing in drag.
I have many traits that are traditionally considered male, often prefer to play a traditional male role in my sex life, and for most of my life have felt empathically connected to gay male culture. But, as an AFAB* individual, I also felt that the gay male community wasn't my community or place. I think in many cases when AFAB individuals feel this way, they end up transitioning to male. Although I have considered hormone therapy, the part of transitioning that interests me most is genital reassignment. Currently, those surgeries are far from perfect and the risk and results are not worth the high costs: physical pain, recovery time, money, and mental anguish.
The first time I saw/heard about a BioQueen my mind was blown a little bit. The question of "Why not me?" was born. I think all people should ask that when they see something they want. Why not me? You may be the first one you know to do it, but if you feel that way, there are (or will be) others who also feel that tug. Be a trailblazer. Be the brave one to stand up first. As queerness becomes more and more visible, more people will come forward to be themselves.
There are plenty of people around the world that think that what I’m doing in drag is wrong, disrespectful, or offensive because I’m not ‘male.’ Persons of that opinion would tell you that drag is for gay men, and that they are creating a ‘female illusion.’ And I say to them… What female do you know looks like a drag queen? Drag is its own art form. I identified as female for 36 years, and I can count on one hand the amount of times I put as much effort into a look as I do as a drag queen, and somehow I don’t think that Halloween counts.
Next week, we’ll talk more about birth assigned genders, drag, and competing. Until then here’s some vocabulary to work on:
*AFAB: Assigned female at birth. this is traditionally determined by genitals.
AMAB: Assigned male at birth, determined by genitals.
Non-Binary: Not identifying as one gender, gender fluidity.
Trans-female/transwoman/MTF: AMAB, but has transitioned to Female (either with or without hormones).
Trans-male/transman/FTM: AFAB, but has transitioned to Male (either with or without hormones).
Cisgendered: Identifying as the gender you were assigned at birth and conforming to societal standards of two genders male and female, determined by genitals.
Straight/Heterosexual: Attracted to the opposite gender in a binary gender society.
Traditional Drag Queen: AMAB, predominantly identifying as gay male, who impersonates a female, or feminine traits to an exaggerated degree. Often trying to create the illusion of being female.
Diva/BioQueen/FauxQueen: AFAB, identifying as female portraying a hyper feminine persona. Sexual identity non-important.
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