From Dresses to Drag

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A we progress with more complex understandings of gender identity and sexuality in the everyday world, we are opening doors to new possibilities for ourselves. We embrace new options for each of us to consider without fear of judgment. Not necessarily fear of the dirty looks or shouts of abuse inducing fear, but the more understated whisper and point type of judgment that can burrow into our subconscious and shape us in unexpected ways.

I am, of course, talking about doing Drag. Drag is something that I have, fairly, recently become a bit obsessed with, since my discovery of RuPaul’s Drag Race. From my limited viewings of live drag shows, RuPaul’s Queens really do represent a carefully crafted and polished drag style. Not that visuals are what it’s all about, the look matters but, as with all things, you need substance too.

One of the challenges the competing Queens get each season is to turn a “regular” guy into a drag queen. In one season, the guys are all homosexual military men who had served pre and post DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), so they range in shape, size, masculinity and femininity. In another, heterosexual athletes are given the drag treatment. While the results vary in success, one of the most interesting parts is how the guys react. Some seem to take to it quickly, others don’t recognise themselves, but they all go for it so willingly.

rupaul makeover

(Side note: some of the guys have wonderful stories and reasons for doing the drag challenge on the show.)

Drag Queens are impressive in their outlook and confidence. Doing drag is something I’m not sure I could do. Namely because, as RuPaul says, it requires charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. My nerve and talent don’t exist in those levels. However, a friend asked me the other day if I would ever do drag, another insisting I give it a go. It got me thinking, would I ever take the plunge? I’ve always thought that I’d love to want to want to do it (if that makes sense), but is this just because I am afraid of judgment if I looked bad? Or good?

In Brighton this past Pride weekend I saw several men in skirts, not women’s skirts mind, men’s skirts. Granted most were of the leather variety and came with matching caps and chain chest restraints, but also a young guy who was was wearing a dark skirt as part of an outfit that looked very, for lack of a better word, normal. It made me wonder whether, as we break down gay/bi/straight/transgender distinctions and expectations, will we start to see a blurring of the fashion choices people make. Acceptance breeds normalisation.

At the moment there don’t seem to be so many people blurring the lines, except in the areas of drag and the more courageous amongst us. I am eagerly awaiting a pioneering trend among teenagers, because that always seems to be when people are most likely to rebel against the understood and set conventions of style, and project it through themselves. Especially as the teenagers of today are so full of hope of equality for all. Maybe next year we’ll all be wearing man skirts.

About Nick Gomez

From a young age I've constantly been reading, writing, drawing and generally creating stories, worlds and characters for fun. This led to a degree in English Literature and Language at University. A passion for writing, especially about my own experiences, and ideas that pop into my head help me to understand myself and the world around me. Twittering @nickawgomez