Opinion: Drag Is Not Ladyface


RuPaul by David Shankbone

Stephen Donnan writes about DRAG, and how he feels it is not Ladyface, a concept akin to Blackface of 1920’s America. This is an excerpt from an article he wrote for our October edition (access by clicking on magazine icon above or on sidebar).

Besides some drunken, and spur-of-the-moment attempts at drag (the likes of which should not be even categorised as drag) I have never performed in drag, nor do I wish to – well, maybe one day – but I am a fan, and massively so at that.

I go to drag shows, I am a fan of Dublin’s Panti Bliss, and Belfast’s Portia Diamonte. I watch RuPaul’s Drag Race so intently it could be called religious. I have watched international Drag stars, such as Latrice Royale, and Shangela, dominate the stage in Boombox and the Kremlin. I am a fan of Drag, and yet I have been labelled a misogynist, and akin to those who went to see performers in blackface in 1920’s America, because of it.

Let’s get one thing straight: Drag is not the same as blackface. Not even in the slightest is it in the same ballpark. Those who insist upon that, or that it is transphobic, have a deficiency in cultural and historical awareness of what drag is, what it means, and what it can do for the LGB and T community worldwide.

I have heard that drag is just another form of sexist oppression, but in the form of mockery or ‘dress up’, and that drag queens are trying to diminish the role of women, by reducing them to a clown on stage. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Drag has existed in many different guises for centuries. From men and women swapping roles in Shakespeare, to Joe and Jerry in Some Like It Hot, drag has been around for a long time, and it will be for a long time after I write this.

When talking about drag and why it is important, we need to look at it in the context of what it means to be a man. That might sound strange given that drag, when stripped down to the basics, is primarily men dressing as women, but that is where it needs to start: the nature of masculinity and how it is defined…….

(You can read the rest of this article in our October issue of EILE Magazine pps 20 – 23,  just click on magazine icon in top post or on sidebar).

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The new LGBT magazine; available online, for download and on podcast. It's time for another view.
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