I like to consider myself a drag aficionado, having watched every episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and Untucked multiple times, as well as enjoying most of my nights out in London’s finest drag bars, and having an Instagram feed which is littered with queens posing the house down, I believe this view of myself is validated.
Drag gives me life.
Recently I entered a drag competition under the persona Karma Sue. Although I went out week one against some stiff competition, it was truly one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. Yes it is my dream to become a fabulous and fierce drag queen, and as a cis woman I thought this was simply a dream. Then one fateful trip to the incredible (seriously check it out) Bloc Bar I saw Lolo Brow take the stage and the world of bio queens was opened up to me and it was as if a light switched on. The Family Fierce, Bloc Bar’s drag family in residence explore the broad spectrum of drag with drag queens, bio queens, bearded queens and more, but it still seems that drag, even in it’s progressive explorations of gender and sexuality, is still a man’s world, which seems ironic considering the inspiration it takes from powerful and fabulous women.
I was enlightened to some of the stigma against female drag queens as a fan tweeted Ru Paul asking if he would ever accept bio queens onto his competition show. He gave a sassy but stupid reply, implying that that show already exists and it’s called Miss America. Now first of all, Miss America is a beauty pageant, and yes pageantry is a part of drag, but traditional concepts of beauty are often mocked, exaggerated and warped in order to create a sense of illusion or artistry. Furthermore, Miss America is aimed at a very specific type of girl, who performs in a very specific type of way. Those girls are expected to be classically beautiful, with bikini ready bodies, they promote world peace and good boundaries’ American family values. That to me is almost the antithesis of what drag is about, drag is about pushing boundaries in all forms. It questions ideas of classical beauty, it welcomes all bodies, and asks what you can create with your body to inspire and entertain, and it speaks out against the norm, and the expected, and the traditional, and opens up new ideas, questions and creativity. Drag is an art performed via persona, in a pageant it seems you are an idealised version of what society wants a good girl to be. Fuck that. I don’t want to be a beauty queen. I want to be a drag queen, so in essence, fuck you Ru Paul for thinking that just because I’m a woman they equate to the same thing.
Obviously I don’t actually think Ru Paul should fuck off, he brought drag to the masses, including myself and for that I will forever be grateful. But perhaps it is time that we bio queens rose up against drag’s patriarchy and reminded ourselves that drag began as a homage to great women, and the future of drag can be pioneered by more great women.