A drag queen is a person who wears and applies drag attire and makeup to replicate and frequently exaggerate feminine gender signifiers. People of all genders and sexual orientations can perform as drag queens in today’s society, despite the fact that drag queens are typically associated with homosexual males and gay culture.
Doing drag can be done for a variety of reasons, from self-expression to performing in front of an audience. Lip-syncing, live singing, and dancing is all common features of drag shows. Gay pride parades, carnivals, and drag pageants, as well as cabarets and nightclubs, all host these types of gatherings. Drag queens come in various shapes and sizes, from professional performers to those who do it for fun.
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History Of Drag
When William Dorsey Swann began hosting drag dances in Washington, DC, in the 1880s, he described himself as “the queen of drag,” a title that he used to refer to himself and the other men who had previously been enslaved. Swann was imprisoned for ten months in 1896 after being found guilty of running a brothel under the guise of “keeping a disorderly house,” and he petitioned the president for a pardon for hosting a drag ball (the request was denied).
The rise of the blackface minstrel show in the United States influenced the rise of the American drag queen. After initially only mocking African American men, the performers soon realized that mocking African American women were just as funny. Comedy skits, dance routines, and “wench” songs were all part of their routines.
The vaudeville shows of the late 1800s and early 1900s were influenced by the minstrel shows of the late 1800s and early 1900s.
When minstrel shows included “prima donna” roles in addition to the “women players”, they retained their humorous components but appeared more refined and elegant. The “prima donnas,” on the other hand, were influenced by both American and European cross-dressing plays, such as Shakespearean players and castrati. The “wenches” were entirely American inventions.
An expanding audience for vaudeville came from minstrelsy, thanks to changes in the population, such as migration from rural to urban areas, the Great Migration of African Americans, and a wave of immigrants. This allowed female impersonators to grow popular as vaudeville became more popular. Vaudeville was a great starting point for many female impersonators, who worked their way up to become prima donnas.
With many clothing changes, they were recognized for their song and dance routines. Julian Eltinge, a well-known female impersonator in New York City, made his Broadway debut as a woman after a successful run in New York City. It’s worth noting that he posed for advertisements for corsets and cosmetics in a magazine called Magazine and Beauty Hints (1913).
Where Did The Term Come From?
As the name implies, drag is a sort of performance art in which participants don elaborate costumes and make-up to showcase their talents. British theatre slang used in the 19th century to describe men wearing women’s clothes developed the term.
The term “drag queen” refers to a person who performs as a drag queen while presenting themselves in an overly feminine manner as part of their act. Some drag queens choose to live their lives as men outside of their drag personas; however, drag queens can be of any gender. Drag kings, who dress as men and perform in ways that are stylized to be masculine, are a rarer breed. It is common for drag kings to be women, although they can also be males or people of any sex.
In addition to the person, they are in their day-to-day lives, many drag queens and kings perform as another drag persona as part of their act. In addition to a different appearance, this persona may use a different name and request to be addressed using other gender pronouns.
This does not imply that the person is transsexual. After leaving the stage, drag performers will no longer use the pronouns or names they used while performing, much as actors no longer refer to their characters by their character names. Being in drag isn’t a part of their identity in the same way that gender is for drag performers.
In contrast, it is not performed when a transgender person comes out and requests that others refer to them by a new name and new gender pronouns. As a part of their identity and a way of asserting their gender identity, it is a significant factor.
People in drag don’t necessarily mean that they’re transitioning to a different gender or the other way around. The vast majority of transgender people are not dragging performers, just like the majority of the general population. For people who identify as transgender, the term “drag” can be offensive because it implies that their genuine identity is only a performance.
As with any other gender, respecting a drag performer’s gender is just as important as respecting any other gender. You can always inquire, for example, if you’re unsure of what pronouns to use when talking about someone.
Because of the way they display their gender, drag performers, like transgender people, are vulnerable to harassment and prejudice. It is NCTE’s mission to end violence against all people who encounter prejudice because of their gender presentation or identity.
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