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The slang term "drag" refers to the wearing of clothing of a different sex, gender, or both; or, an exaggerated characterization of one's current gender or sex. "Drag" may be used as a noun as in the expression in drag, or as an adjective as in drag show.[1]

Since this wiki isn't Wikipedia (see Wikipedia's article on drag), this page should focus on aspects of drag that are specifically relevant to people who are nonbinary, or at least to help disambiguate drag from other kinds of gender nonconforming clothing and transgender transition of gender expression.

Terminology, scope and etymology[edit | edit source]

Participants of the High Heel Drag Race in Washington, D.C.

The origin of the term is uncertain;[2] the first recorded use of drag in reference to actors dressed in women's clothing is from 1870.[3] The use of "drag" in this sense appeared in print as early as 1870[4][5] but its origin is uncertain. One suggested etymological root is 19th-century theatre slang, from the sensation of long skirts trailing on the floor.[6] Drag queens are typically gay men, but there are drag queens of all different sexual orientations and genders,[7] including trans women who perform as drag queens[8][9][10] (sometimes termed trans queens),[11] such as Monica Beverly Hillz[8][9] and Agnes Moore, known by her stage name Peppermint,[10] and cisgender women[12] who do, sometimes termed faux queens.[13] Drag queens' counterparts are drag kings, women who dress in exaggeratedly masculine clothing; men who dress like drag kings are sometimes termed faux kings.

Drag queens[edit | edit source]

Drag queens are performance artists, typically cisgender men, who dress in women's clothing and often act with exaggerated femininity and in feminine gender roles with a primarily entertaining purpose. They often exaggerate make-up such as eyelashes for dramatic, comedic or satirical effect. Drag queens are closely associated with gay men and gay culture, but can be of any sexual orientation or gender identity. They vary widely by class, culture, and dedication, from professionals who star in films to people who try drag very occasionally.

The activity, which is called doing drag, has many motivations, from individual self-expression to mainstream performance. Drag queen activities among stage and street performers may include lip-syncing, live singing, dancing, participating in events such as gay pride parades, drag pageants, or at venues such as cabarets and discotheques.

Some drag queens may prefer to be referred to as "she" while in drag and desire to stay completely in character.[14] Other drag performers say they are indifferent to which pronoun is used to refer to them. In drag queen RuPaul's words, "You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don't care! Just so long as you call me."[15]

Drag kings[edit | edit source]

All The Kings Men—a drag king performance troupe from Boston

Drag kings are performance artists, typically cisgender women, who dress in masculine drag and personify male gender stereotypes as part of an individual or group routine.[16] They may be lesbian, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, or otherwise part of the LGBT community. They may also be straight. A typical drag show may incorporate dancing, acting, stand-up comedy, and singing, either live or lip-synching to pre-recorded tracks.[17] Drag kings often perform as exaggeratedly macho male characters,[18] portray marginalized masculinities such as construction workers, rappers, or they will impersonate male celebrities like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Tim McGraw.[19]

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, several drag kings became British music hall stars, and British pantomime has preserved the tradition of women performing in male roles. Starting in the mid-1990s, drag kings started to gain some of the fame and attention that drag queens have known.[20][21]

Female impersonator[edit | edit source]

Another term for a drag queen is female impersonator.[22] Although this is still used, it is sometimes regarded as inaccurate, because not all contemporary drag performers are attempting to pass as women. Female impersonation has been and continues to be illegal in some places, which inspired the drag queen José Sarria to hand out labels to his friends reading, "I am a boy", so he could not be accused of female impersonation.[23] American drag queen RuPaul once said, "I do not impersonate females! How many women do you know who wear seven-inch heels, four-foot wigs, and skintight dresses?" He also said, "I don't dress like a woman; I dress like a drag queen!".[24]

Alternative terms[edit | edit source]

Drag queens walking in a parade in São Paulo, Brazil.

Drag queens are sometimes called transvestites, although that term also has many other connotations than the term drag queen and is not much favored by many drag queens themselves.[25] The term tranny has been adopted by some drag performers, notably RuPaul,[26] and the gay male community[27] in the United States, but it is considered offensive to most transgender and transsexual people.[28]

Many drag performers refer to themselves as drag artists, as opposed to drag queens, as contemporary forms of drag have become nonbinary.[29][30]

Uncommon terms[edit | edit source]

In the drag queen world today, there is an ongoing debate about whether transgender drag queens are actually considered "Drag Queens". This subject is argued because Drag Queens are defined as a man portraying a woman. Since transgender queens are now transitioned into women, many people do not consider them drag queens because they are no longer men dressing as women.

Drag Kings are often cisgender women who assume a masculine aesthetic. However this is not always the case, because there are also transgender male drag kings as well as cisgender male kings ("bio kings"). Bio kings or bio queens are people who perform as their own AGAB through a heightened or exaggerated gender presentation.[31][32]

A faux queen or bio queen[33] or female-bodied queen, on the other hand, is a cisgender woman while performing in the same context as traditional (men-as-women) drag and displaying such features as exaggerated hair and makeup (as an example, the performance of the actress and singer Lady Gaga during her first appearance in the 2018 film A Star Is Born.[34]

Nonbinary drag performers[edit | edit source]

A nonbinary drag artist, Caldwell Tidicue, stage name Bob the Drag Queen, at RuPaul's DragCon LA 2017.

Drag can be an opportunity for people to express their identity's "gender complexity".[35] Although many drag performers are cisgender or are binary trans people, some notable drag performers who have come out as nonbinary include:

See also[edit | edit source]

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Weber, Dani (July 13, 2017). "Drag and gender: Performing as a non-binary human".
  • Pavda, Gilad (2000). "Priscilla Fights Back: The Politicization of Camp Subculture". Journal of Communication Inquiry. 24 (2): 216–243. doi:10.1177/0196859900024002007.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Abate, Frank R.; Jewell, Elizabeth (2001). The New Oxford American Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 515. ISBN 978-0-19-511227-6. OCLC 959495250.
  2. Baroni, Monica (2012) [1st pub. 2006]. "Drag". In Gerstner, David A. (ed.). Routledge International Encyclopedia of Queer Culture. New York: Routledge. p. 191. ISBN 978-1-136-76181-2. OCLC 815980386. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  3. Felix Rodriguez Gonzales (26 June 2008). "The feminine stereotype in gay characterization: A look at English and Spanish". In María de los Ángeles Gómez González; J. Lachlan Mackenzie; Elsa M. González Álvarez (eds.). Languages and Cultures in Contrast and Comparison. Pragmatics & beyond new series v 175. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 231. ISBN 978-90-272-9052-6. OCLC 860469091. Retrieved 29 April 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. Oxford English Dictionary 2012 (Online version of 1989 2nd. Edition) Accessed 11 April
  5. 'I know what "in drag" means; it is the slang for going about in women's clothes.': The Times (London), 30 May 1870, p.13, "The Men in Women's Clothes'
  6. [1] Online Etymology Dictionary: Drag
  7. O'Brien, Jennifer (January 30, 2018). "The Psychology of Drag". Psychology Today. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Levin, Sam (March 8, 2018). "Who can be a drag queen? RuPaul's trans comments fuel calls for inclusion". The Guardian. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Beverly Hillz, Monica (March 9, 2018). "I'm a trans woman and a drag queen. Despite what RuPaul says, you can be both". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Kirkland, Justin (March 22, 2018). "Peppermint Is Taking on a New Fight for the Trans Community". Esquire. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  11. Framke, Caroline (March 7, 2018). "How RuPaul's comments on trans women led to a Drag Race revolt — and a rare apology". Vox. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  12. Coull, Jamie Lee (2015). "Faux Queens: an exploration of gender, sexuality and queerness in cis-female drag queen performance". Curtin University. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. Nicholson, Rebecca (July 10, 2017). "Workin' it! How female drag queens are causing a scene". The Guardian. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  14. "Understanding Drag". transequality.org. National Center for Transgender Equality. 2017-04-28. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  15. Rupaul (June 1995). Lettin' It All Hang Out: An Autobiography. Hyperion Books. p. 139.
  16. Aronoff, Jen (2005-10-19). "Competitive Drag Kings Strut Stuff: With some spit and polish, women perform in growing world of cross-dressing pageantry". The University of South Carolina Daily Gamecock. Archived from the original on 2007-10-16. Retrieved 2007-07-29. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help); CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. Dujour, Dick (2006-08-24). "Drag King Contest". San Francisco Bay Times. Retrieved 2007-07-29. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. Beckner, Chrisanne (2005-09-29). "Best of Sacramento - Drag King: Buck Naked". Sacramento News & Review. Retrieved 2007-07-29. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. Long, Cris (2007-07-22). "Bring Out the Kings!: Gage Gatlyn". Out Impact. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-07-29. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help); CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. "Gage For Yourself". Watermark Online. 2005-09-22. Archived from the original on 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2007-07-29. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. Caceda, Eden (2015-01-13). "Inside Sydney's drag king culture". Hijacked. Retrieved 2015-01-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. When Cross Dressing was a crime http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/books/2015/03/12/tbt-when-cross-dressing-was-crime?page=full
  23. ">> social sciences >> Sarria, José". glbtq. 1923-12-12. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-03-01. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  24. Dr. Susan Corso (April 15, 2009). Drag Queen Theology. Retrieved: April 1, 2018.
  25. Ford, Zack. "The Quiet Clash Between Transgender Women And Drag Queens." ThinkProgress, 25 June 2014. Web. 9 September 2017.
  26. Spargo, Chris (2012-01-15). "NEW: RuPaul's 'Tranny' Conroversy". NewNowNext. Retrieved 2013-10-06. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  27. Musto, Michael (2010-11-12). "Is "Tranny" So Bad?". Blogs.villagevoice.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2013-10-06. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help); CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  28. "Is 'Tranny' Offensive?". The Bilerico Project. 2008-09-09. Retrieved 2013-10-06. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  29. Knauf, Ana Sofia. "Person of Interest: Arson Nicki". The Stranger. Tim Keck. Retrieved 1 July 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  30. Lam, Teresa. "Getting to Know Non-Binary Drag Artist Rose Butch". Hypebae. Retrieved 1 July 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  31. "Britannica Academic". academic.eb.com. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  32. Barnett, Joshua Trey; Johnson, Corey W. (November 2013). "We Are All Royalty". Journal of Leisure Research. 45 (5): 677–694. doi:10.18666/jlr-2013-v45-i5-4369. ISSN 0022-2216.
  33. Nicholson, Rebecca. “Workin' It! How Female Drag Queens Are Causing a Scene.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 10 July 2017, www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/10/workin-it-how-female-drag-queens-are-causing-a-scene.
  34. Amber L. Davisson (25 July 2013). "2. Dragging the Monster". Lady Gaga and the Remaking of Celebrity Culture. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-7864-7475-2. OCLC 862799660. Retrieved 12 April 2018. Within the drag community, "faux queen" is the title used for a woman who performs as a drag queen. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  35. Levitt, Heidi M. (2017). "Drag Gender: Experiences of Gender for Gay and Queer Men who Perform Drag". Sex Roles. 78: 367–384. doi:10.1007/s11199-017-0802-7.
  36. Bradshaw, Londyn [@BradshawLondyn] (22 November 2020). "Just a friendly reminder that the trans community paved a pathway for non binary individuals. This includes myself! Hi am Londyn and if you weren't aware I am a black non binary drag queen! Love you all" – via Twitter.
  37. "Meet Londyn Bradshaw | Drag Artist & Content Creator". SHOUTOUT DFW. 26 May 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  38. Reynolds, Daniel (2 June 2015). "America's Next Drag Superstar Is 22, Genderqueer, and a Trans Activist". advocate.com. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  39. Rudolph, Christopher (6 March 2021). "Who's the Shadiest "Drag Race Down Under" Queen? Etcetera Etcetera Has Thoughts". NewNowNext. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  40. Balaram, Rajashree (27 October 2018). "Artist Durga Gawde tells us what it means to be gender-fluid". Vogue India. Retrieved 15 April 2021.
  41. Hawgood, Alex (October 29, 2020). "Yass, We Can! Drag Performers Enter the Political Mainstream". W Magazine. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  42. Goode, Gigi (29 August 2021). "Lemme explain." Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  43. Monsoon, Jinkx (21 March 2015). "(untitled Facebook post)". Archived from the original on 22 March 2015.
  44. @thatonequeen (6 October 2019). "For the record I identify as Pansexual and non binary" – via Twitter.
  45. Rodriguez, Mathew (14 January 2019). "Valentina Identifies as Nonbinary: "I'm My Own Gender"". out.com. Retrieved 1 April 2020.