Oct 9, 2011

[Technicolor Musings] The Bravery of Drag

I can't imagine myself every trying to go drag. Not that I have anything wrong with drag queens in general - I just know that it's something that remains to be well outside my comfort level. And in that regard, I have to admit that there's something to be admired about those who do.

Blue Queen
by davitydave via Flickr

Drag, for the uninitiated, is the more fabulous term to describe transvestites - guys who like to dress up as women. This may or may not reflect the kind of people there are when the wigs come off. Some drag queens  get into character since they always imagine themselves to be women trapped in men's bodies. Others seek to put on heels as a liberating experience - one where you get to be someone other than yourself entirely.

There are just so many reasons and all of them are valid - at least for the individual. But compared to most other gay men out there, I feel drag queens are definitely some of the bravest among us all.

Ever since I started going to O Bar with my partner, I've had more chances to come into closer contact with various drag queens to the point of becoming friends with a number of them. The O Divas, as they are called, are a pretty quirky bunch who perform regularly either the Malate or Ortigas branches of O Bar. And their drag personalities don't always reflect who they are when the make-up comes off, and other times it seems they do. To try and capture anyone in a single stereotype, especially people as dynamically diverse as drag queens, is not only unrealistic but also insulting to the wonders of diversity and individuality that each of us represents with our every word and thought.

Scary drag queens at Madonna's concert.
by feastoffun.com via Flickr

Most people tend to focus on drag queens as a point of ridicule - a reason never to take them seriously. But that's unfair since you're ultimately trying to judge someone based on their appearance alone. And if anything, a person's drag persona is a well-designed and even calculated image they are trying to portray. And I'm not just talking about celebrity impersonators - this is about defining your sort of "secret identity" when you design your drag outfit and put all the pieces together.

Being in drag is not easy - and I'm not just referring to the challenge of wearing heels or women's underthings. There's the need to face the public's misguided perceptions about drag and still assert yourself. And on top of all that queens need to perform in from of crowds as they try to present themselves as almsot larger than life characters? That's the life of a drag queen - it's more than just getting the laughs when they're on stage and you're huddled in the dark as you nurse a beer.

pink queen
by davitydave via Flickr

Thus we enter that weird realm beyond the outlandish drag queens - the gay man who simply dress up like women. The ones who don't perform on stage but are brave enough to walk the streets in women's clothing. They're the ones who end up getting the dirty looks and the casual asides spoken a bit louder than needed to be. They're the ones who face surprised faces when they use the men's bathroom and so on and so forth. Despite all the negative stereotypes out there about being a transvestites, these individuals stand up for who they really are and that's an admirable quality.

So the next time you see a guy dressed as a woman and fel the urge to make fun of how funny they look to you or how they make for very ugly women, think about the kind of nerve and gall it takes to tuck it all in, put on a dress and walk out into the street. Could you do that? Are you that brave? Such bravery and courage out to be celebrated instead of ridiculed.

For drag queens and those who happen to walk the streets in drag day in and day out, they have it a bit better. I say that in the sense that as gay men, they have no questions about their sexual orientation or identity. They know exactly who they are and have the courage to show the world precisely what that means to them in a manner that no one can ignore. Now that's something special indeed - a kind of strength of spirit that we'd all be lucky to have, even just once in our lives.
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  1. I admire drag queens. They have lots of guts and confidence. And some are really really pretty. :)

  2. ay! hindi nagpost ung comment ko kanina.
    Hemingways, I aspired to be drag queen once in my gay life, kaya lang di talga ubra eh.

    Cheers to our drag sisters!