Saturday, September 27, 2008

Open Forum: A Drag for Trans Liberation?

Drag shows are becoming increasingly popular throughout the country especially on college campuses. Gays and straights alike are getting involved by participating in the shows or coming to watch as part of the audience. Many Gay-Straight Alliances throughout the country are hosting drag shows at their schools which are being celebrated as a fun time to kick back and have a good time.

What are the political ramifications of drag shows? Are they a positive or negative step in the fight for transgender liberation?

On one hand drag shows are an opportunity for someone who is transgender and closeted to feel safe and affirmed with the opportunity to express their true gender identity in a setting where it is accepted (atleast for the day). It is also an opportunity for gay and straight folks alike to see that gender expression is varied and cross dressing is not as taboo as society has made us think it is. Drag shows help break down barriers of gender dichotomy, and celebrate the exploration and experimentation with toying with our respective gender identities.

On the other hand drag shows are also looked at by many as simply freak shows. They attend such celebrations much like they attend Halloween and Mardis Gras as an attempt to have a good time and laugh at their friends. Or dress up themselves for the fun of it. These people are not viewing drag shows as an opportunity to break down the barriers of gender or to promote acceptance of gender variance but more as an attempt to make fun of the opposite gender from which they identify.

Thoughts? Do you feel drag shows help or hurt the movement for transgender lib?


Renee said...

I have been to several drag shows. I actually enjoy them but i always leave with one thought..the continually reify the idea of the gender binary; certain clothing males and certain clothing for females. I believe that this perpetuates difference We need to move away from the idea that there is one way of being masculine or feminine. The binary is what is damaging not the people.

libhom said...

I don't think most gay men see drag shows as freak shows. Most of us think of them as part of our lives and our community.

Anonymous said...

I think drag balls and shows are inherently joyous and liberating events--inclusive, fun, and celebrating not only our right to be who we inherently are as LGBTQ people, but celebrating our right, and that of our straight friends and everybody, to be who we WANT to be or to simply play with our identities. It is okay not to be serious all the time, and really, camp is a legitimate social expression of us turning our oppressed status into our OWN THING! I love it. Drag queens always make me happy. They are very special people. (btw, I'm a bi woman and a little reserved about doing drag myself. But there's a lot of us wallflowers smiling at the stage and the dance foor....)

Queers United said...

I think that for the most part drag shows are positive. If someone is laughing and mocking drag shows, they will likely be doing the same to a transgender person, so having the drag show can only help and not hurt in my opinion.

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