Thursday, April 16, 2009

Walking the plank (runway)

Drag is something that I have had some experience with. I was an actor at Subiaco Academy where there was no girls. I was cast a majority of the time as a girl. I had to study mannerisms, tone, makeup and their clothing. I also had to play about three different races of women. It is not an easy job to fit into the cloths or naturally pull feminine mannerisms off. I had to practice for about a month to master walking in high heels.I have a lot of respect for what the drag queens were pursuing.

They are some of the few individuals that know exactly what they want and are going after it with everything they have. How rare is that?

As college students we try every day to figure out what we want, who we want to be and how to make it happen. It takes some of us many years to decide and I personally change my mind quite frequently. They know what they want and have most of society telling them that they can’t have it and won’t be accepted. They have a lot more guts than most people do. As soon as many people are reprimanded by society they will just give up. What the drag queens are doing is brave. Though there is not as much opposition as there once was, many still disapprove of drag queens. Plus the rejection by their family and sometimes even the drag community must alienate them to an unimaginable extreme.

An aspect of the drag culture that is especially intriguing is the balls. Paris is Burning did a great job in highlighting exactly what a balls are. The individuals have to get up and parade their best in front of the only social acceptable place they may know. They can be met with a number of apprehensive people. This is like walking the plank for some. One the interviewers had not walked yet and was very nervous about it. The sheer process of it all takes massive amounts of time and effort. Another one of the people worked on sewing a tank top for an hour. It was said in the film that some people don’t have enough money to spend on food and cloths so they chose their garb. That is true devotion.

I believe that the drag, gay, and transvestite culture has had a profound effect on society. One of my favorite comedies growing up was Will & Grace. I grew with more acceptance of the gay culture than my family ever did. I hope that the next generation will treasure all that the gay culture has done in pop culture and someday they can study in history books and it not be looked down upon.


  1. At what point does devotion to some idea, as these girls have, become dangerous or even hurtful?

  2. I'm with you, Zagurski--It's really neat how much time and effort these transgenders put into their drag shows.

    I didn't approve of how some of the drag ball participants felt it necessary to steal in order to become better drag queens, but with so many of them so devoted to the craft and having so little funding, it seems like that's all they had. Gypsies, perhaps?

  3. It is very epic for the girls to risk everything but i think they should work within the Law. I understand why they do it but i can't condone them braking the law. I think though this has a lot to do with society as a whole and our social problems. Our society says for us to be happy we have to have certain things (such as the designer clothing) and their is only a limited amount of ways to ever achieve such things. Not too many of the queens of the balls is going to be making six diget figures any time soon because of who they are.

  4. You've hit on something that we talked about after class for a bit - when asked, these people admit they want wealth, but what do they want to do with it? They don't want to be idle with it. They want to spend just like the people they aspire to emulate.

    You're right that a lot of people from these communities are more accepted today, but there is still a lot of prejudice against these groups, taking making different forms - violence, discrimination, misinformation, etc. It's very sad, but it's always an uphill battle for a minority. We can only hope that the battle won't turn into an all out war for rights and recognition.