As a woman, I’m constantly being told about what I should and should not be doing with my life and my body. I should exude a certain level of sexiness, but never cross the line into being downright slutty. I should be confident, but not bitchy. I should be ambitious, but not if whatever I want interferes with my abilities to “keep a man” and start a family. Everything I do should be perfect, because I am a representative of my gender, and what I produce is emblematic of the potential of all women.
Needless to say, this can all get a bit… overwhelming. So when one of my friends asked me to join her at a Drag King workshop over the summer, I was intrigued. Swap my feminine persona for an ace bandage and a drawn-on mustache? Why the hell not? As a heterosexual cisgendered woman, it’s not often I have the opportunity to indulge in my more masculine side. And, as a writer, I told myself it would be useful to develop a traditionally-male mindscape to help add depth to my male characters. I thought it would be interesting.
What I didn’t expect was for it to be an absolute fucking blast.
The workshop, taught by gender performer and magical glitter cupcake Goldie Peacock, went over drag king history, the basics of packing and binding, and drag routines. By the end of the session, the six of us attendees were sporting sideburns and proudly strutting around with our imaginary dicks proudly swinging between our legs. I was surprised by the profound transformation that happened – I suddenly felt Powerful. Impressive. Aggressive.
These are all words that, when applied to women, are deemed negative traits. Dressing up in drag allowed me the freedom to find those qualities within myself and act them out. I was A Man – in other words, a valid human with a voice that deserved to be heard. Not only deserved, but demanded.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of joining Goldie again for Level 2. We dove into the finer points of drag as performance – how can one concoct a personality? A routine? And does one have to limit oneself to a single personality?
Not only had drag provided an outlet for my so-called “masculinity” (in reality, normal human traits assigned to a certain sex by millennia of societal “norms”), but it also has provided a new artistic space and community to become involved in. My aforementioned friend and several other attendees are forming a creative network, and we have several ideas for some collaborative projects. Drag has me feeling more artistically inspired than I’ve felt since moving to New York, and I find that to be very exciting.
To quote Whitman, “[We] are large, [we] contain multitudes.” I’m excited to explore this multitude further.