We at FSOG, are more or less exposed to the Drag culture from a very digital basis. We write and talk about everything that is up and coming as well as gone and past. From RuPaul to LadyBai, we have it covered. But is it fair to keep writing about things that people already know about? Are we just preaching the same prayer unnecessarily?
So we asked our extended family at Laudco Media and a few others about their interaction with drag and the answers are pretty, umm, all over the place. Let’s see how many myths have to be broken.
The participants of this mini-survey had a rough idea about what Drag is. Also, all of the participants are straight and come from different parts of India. 4 of them were women.
These are the 5 questions I asked.
- How long have you known about Drag?
- Have you watched a live performance?
- Who according to you performs it?
- Why is it performed?
- Do you think it should become a part of the mainstream culture?
Let’s get through it one by one. How long have people known about Drag?
The answers ranged from one month to 5 years. The one who has been exposed to it for just a month was also the one who got to watched the recent Kimchi event that happened in The Lalit Ashok, Bangalore. She and her partner went together and had a blast watching the performances.
Another participant who was exposed to drag for over five years has not had the opportunity to ever witness a drag performance. Her daughter helped her gain exposure to it.
Most other participants fell in between a couple of months to a year. And three participants in total have watched Drag performances live.
But wait, do people know “of” drag or “about” drag? Simply because one has heard about it does not mean they know what it entails. Correct?
So tell me, who performs Drag?
Here are a few examples of the answers that I received. Let’s see if you, dear reader, can guess the right answer.
- Although anyone can perform it, I have only come across mostly LGBTQ people do so
- Gays mostly
- Gay men who dress in female attire, perform feminine actions and have loud makeup.
- A man who’s interested in dressing up like a girl, maybe?
- People from the LGBTQ+ community
The correct answer,
“Anybody can perform drag. I have mostly heard about Drag Queens (performed by men) but I am aware that Drag Kings (performed by women) is also something which I have learned about recently.”
If you knew that, give yourself a pat on the back. If you did not know that, and you know it now, give yourself a pat on the back.
It is important for us to understand and value cultures. The drag culture aims to mock the heteronormative ideas which enforce gender rules and roles. It is a big part of the LGBTQ+ culture because they are all aimed against one thing,
We have been a part of the heteronomous society for far too long. Not only do we need feminism, but we also need to understand that there is no such thing as a gender binary. And Drag is a bold Avatar of art that helps engage with this idea through performance. It allows fluidity of gender and provides a stage to be what one cannot be outside of their own space.
Drag has grown similar to how Jazz and Rap grew. It comes from the groups of society who have undergone frightening amounts of discrimination and have used art to claim their own identity and emancipate themselves from ideologies that put them down. This form of freedom through art/performance is what makes it so interesting and valuable.
But why do the outsiders think Drag is performed?
- For self-expression and a bold celebration of femininity
- I am not sure. But maybe, every man has a little feminine side to him. And that is performed through Drag.
- To entertain as well as educate masses on gender roles and stereotypes
- Performed by those who want to explore their character (personality)
- Probably performed to express yourself in ways that are not possible verbally.
The answers are all partly right. Drag is a performance. Check. It is a bold celebration of femininity. Correct. It educates masses on gender roles and stereotypes. YASSS. We are definitely headed in the right direction. There is no stigma or hesitation in the understanding of why it is performed. Even though the ideas are not fully developed, we are slowly but surely getting there.
In India, we have had men performing as women for the longest of times.
With women not being allowed to step onto the stage, men who had a stronger feminine side to him than the others performed as women. Although, on the mainstream media, we have observed a lot more gay men from the western countries getting into it with shows such as RuPaul’s DragRace. It is not a surprise that people assume Drag is performed only by them.
Like any art, Drag can be performed by anyone who is interested in the art form. But it extends itself beyond performance. It evolves as a form of self-expression, providing opportunities to those who want to explore the fluidity of their gender. The idea of sexuality and gender is non-binary is still knocking on the doors of those who have grown in stringent environments. It breaks the walls of those environments and makes a statement without having to explain every aspect of the same.
Therefore, one can say that Drag induces high confidence among its performers. This allows them to get in touch with the sides that society demanded to keep hidden. And the hiding has to stop.
So, should Drag enter the mainstream culture altogether?
Should it be treated similar to all other performing arts across the world? Does it bring to the table something that India as a country, did not have before?
There were two sides to it.
- Not necessarily. Drag picks up its elements from existing art forms. This includes dancing, singing, acrobats, and drama/ theatre. There is almost nothing original about it. The primary reason it is hyped is that it was started and is mostly performed by the LGBTQ+. Otherwise, there is already a number of platforms that promote dance, makeup, costume and more. These pre-existent spaces should allow for more diversity and inclusivity. This will change the whole dynamics of how the LGBTQ+ is perceived.
- It is an art form, so like other art performances, it can become a part of mainstream culture. It would help in better recognition of drag queens as well. The amount of effort they put into a performance makes it worth watching. And should really be considered as a mainstream culture.
Which side are you on? Do you think culture evolves and absorbs the new? Or it breaks the new and fits it into the old frames? How do you see Drag? What is your conclusion on this?