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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Can Straight Guys Do Drag?

Posted by on Tue, Dec 4, 2012 at 4:46 PM

A friend asks on Facebook:

OPINION REQUEST: straight men doing drag. would it be akin to a white guy doing blackface? I feel like on some level it would be offensive, but I could be crazy. (I hadn't even considered it until someone else said it might be and then I started worrying.)

This sounds like liberal hand-wringing to me. Hell, I've done drag and I'm not even a man, let alone a gay one. However, I felt this called for a binding Slog poll, so please, tell my friend whether he is a terrible person or he can do drag!


Comments (59) RSS

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Soupytwist 1
According to RuPaul, the minute you start choosing your own clothes, you're doing drag, so...
Posted by Soupytwist on December 4, 2012 at 4:51 PM · Report this
Anita Goodmann is a performed by a straight man. He says he's gotten a lot of shit for it in the drag community
Posted by schmitttt on December 4, 2012 at 4:52 PM · Report this
GhostDog 3
Eddie Izzard would say straight guys can do drag an I take his word for it. As he is a straight guy in a dress and make up.
Posted by GhostDog on December 4, 2012 at 4:55 PM · Report this
michaelp 4
You don't have to be homo to be a queen.
Posted by michaelp on December 4, 2012 at 4:57 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 5
Mary, you write like you're trying to be funny or something, comes off not even sophomoric. So, try this, take a big DRAG off of one of Dom's blunts, then come back and re-write the post.
Posted by dnt trust me on December 4, 2012 at 4:59 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 6
It's sweet that your friend is worried.

And sure you'll be burned, but not for this.
Posted by MacCrocodile on December 4, 2012 at 5:00 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 7
Black face is not racist to those with no racial bigotry in their heart, any more than it's sexist for a man to put on women's' clothes of for women to wear pants. Drag however is totally different, it's for the strong, the brave, the few.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on December 4, 2012 at 5:03 PM · Report this
balderdash 8
If Patrick Swayze can do drag, you can too. At least, I think so.

Although please do not generalize from that and take away the lesson that if Hollywood does something, you can do it too. That is a very bad lesson.
Posted by balderdash on December 4, 2012 at 5:06 PM · Report this
danindowntown 9
@ 3 Actually I don't think that Eddie Izzard defines what he does as drag. If memory serves he actually states he isn't a drag queen in one of his stand-up acts.

That being said I think anyone can do drag.
Posted by danindowntown on December 4, 2012 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Asparagus! 10
Nah dude, blackface is always racist.
Posted by Asparagus! on December 4, 2012 at 5:09 PM · Report this
balderdash 11
@7, you should definitely put on blackface and go out in public and try to explain to people you meet how it's totally not racist. Be sure to use the n-word liberally in your explanation, as you are not a racist and it is therefore okay for you to do that.
Posted by balderdash on December 4, 2012 at 5:12 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 12
Isn't there such a thing as straight drag queens? Did the movie Kinky Boots lie to me? The bastards!
Posted by keshmeshi on December 4, 2012 at 5:19 PM · Report this
@10 No, blackface is always racially charged, but whether it's actually racist depends entirely on the context in which it is used. A good example is the yellowface in Breakfast at Tiffany's versus Cloud Atlas- Breakfast at Tiffany's makes a white actor into a Japanese man for cheap laughs (which is offensive both in the way Japanese were characterized, and also the fact that they wouldn't hire an asian actor to begin with) Cloud Atlas on the other hand put actors in new racial/age/sex drag in order to draw attention to the fact that we are all the same, no matter what race/sex/age you are. So to write Cloud Atlas off as racist is to ignore the entire context of the movie.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on December 4, 2012 at 5:19 PM · Report this
Straight men doing drag is 100% fine. However, by suggesting that a straight man dressing as a woman might be offensive to gay people, since a white man dressing as a black man is offensive to a black man, you're kind of calling gay men women.

That's a pretty strained argument, but it's the only offensive I can find here and I am liberal as fuck. So, I guess I'm saying you're fine.
Posted by Frank Rizzo on December 4, 2012 at 5:29 PM · Report this
@13 I'm pretty sure Cloud Atlas is one of the few exceptions to the dressing up as another race rule. I've never seen another one. Tropic Thunder tried but the whole movie was so bad it couldn't pull it off.
Posted by sahara29 on December 4, 2012 at 5:31 PM · Report this
@2: She was the first thing I thought of with this!

@7: "Black face is not racist to those with no racial bigotry in their heart"

Man are you a piece of absolute human shit.
Posted by It's racist and so are you on December 4, 2012 at 5:31 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 17
If there's one thing that drag shows have been historically known for, it's their gentle nature, their innate sensitivity to the delicate nature of their audience, and their desire at all costs not to offend by the misuse of politically inflammatory material. So by all means, convene a study group before you buy that first tube of lipstick.
Posted by Doctor Memory on December 4, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
raku 18
I'm repulsed by typical drag shows because they just seem like dudes making fun of trans people and women. I must be dumb because I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who feels that way, but it seems so blatant and offensive to me.
Posted by raku on December 4, 2012 at 6:03 PM · Report this
scary tyler moore 19
aintcha ever heard of dame edna everage?
Posted by scary tyler moore on December 4, 2012 at 6:08 PM · Report this
blip 20
Does Milton Berle count?
Posted by blip on December 4, 2012 at 6:13 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 21
Ed Wood was straight and liked dressing in drag. And I'm sure there are many, many other examples down through the ages.
Posted by Matt from Denver on December 4, 2012 at 6:14 PM · Report this
If Hillary Clinton can wear a pant suit, a straight guy should be able to wear a dress. Even one with sequins.

No one ever said men in kilts were gay. If they did, then someone probably hurt them for saying it.
Posted by originalcinner on December 4, 2012 at 6:17 PM · Report this
AnitaGoodmann 23
As a person who clearly does drag at a recognized level, who happens to prefer females as life and dating partners regardless of the clothes I wear (or she wears) I say we all can do what we please, Is if offensive? Well that has a lot to do with the message. I think that as we are seeing more people expressing gender challenging presentations that mix and match. Orientation IS a factor to some, because the label of Drag Queen is closely tied to the early gay rights movement. Gender identity and sexual orientation are separate components of a person's nature.
There is a culture related to drag in the gay community that straight men rarely participate in, and you could argue that to do drag and not be gay makes you a crossdresser, or "t-gurl" or any number of ill defined labels. If your definition of drag queen is anyone who walks the world as a Queen while Dressed As A Girl (drag) then anyone can do it. If your definition includes a requirement of being gay, maybe not. I think it is interesting to even have this conversation myself, and to avoid the baggage many people care about those of us who walk in both types of shoes, I prefer "manwomanwomanman." Your Mileage May Vary. :)
Posted by AnitaGoodmann on December 4, 2012 at 6:30 PM · Report this
Straight guys have been doing drag since Aeschylus cast one as Atossa, mother of King Xerxes, in "The Persians" in 472 BCE. In fact, guys playing dames onstage was a standard convention of Western Theatre up until the mid-1600's.
Posted by COMTE on December 4, 2012 at 6:33 PM · Report this
sperifera 25
You are not the only one that feels that way, raku. I find it mysoginistic.
Posted by sperifera on December 4, 2012 at 6:42 PM · Report this

Female impersonators.

Crossdressers. Transvestites.

Three or four different things.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on December 4, 2012 at 6:53 PM · Report this
Fistique 27
Everyone in the comments here is a gigantic fucking racist, FYI.
Posted by Fistique on December 4, 2012 at 7:10 PM · Report this
Jessica 28
"Cloud Atlas on the other hand put actors in new racial/age/sex drag in order to draw attention to the fact that we are all the same, no matter what race/sex/age you are. So to write Cloud Atlas off as racist is to ignore the entire context of the movie."

But why couldn't they have cast POC as the characters instead of putting Tom Hanks in yellowface? The idea that "we are all the same" is, IMO, patently ridiculous. Yes, we are all the same species, but each of us enters and moves through society with vastly different experiences that shape us. Come on, I dare you to go tell a trans* person of color how you and they are EXACTLY the same! I don't see color! We're all just people! It's a line of innocent bullshit that seems to only be spit out by white people (I say this as a white person who has said that same bullshit in the past).

That being said, if a straight guy wants to do drag and can acknowledge the difference in power/societal dynamics between men and women in his act without simply doing a "LOL I'M A GIRL MAKEUP AND SHOES OH MY" thing, more power to him.
Posted by Jessica on December 4, 2012 at 7:14 PM · Report this
Knat 29
I've seen guys wear women's clothes (a woman's skinny jeans in one case, no less), and nobody was the wiser. So... yeah. Or did you mean a different scenario?
Posted by Knat on December 4, 2012 at 7:32 PM · Report this
Michael of the Green 30
Funnily, the liberal hand-wringers would be likely to wring their hands over option #1. Let's check...
Posted by Michael of the Green on December 4, 2012 at 7:37 PM · Report this
Simone 31
Has this guy never seen a Monty Python sketch?
Posted by Simone on December 4, 2012 at 7:46 PM · Report this
I think this is about performance drag. There are cis females who do performance drag as queens, so why not hetero guys?
Posted by Spike1382 on December 4, 2012 at 7:47 PM · Report this
Posted by kukl on December 4, 2012 at 8:22 PM · Report this
One of the best drag shows I ever saw was a straight man and his wif was gorgeous!
Posted by chrstphr on December 4, 2012 at 8:35 PM · Report this
doloresdaphne 35
Yes drag is like blackface, but it's women that are being mocked through immitation. At their best, I find drag queens mildly entertaining and mildly offensive, but if Gay men can do it, hetero men should be able to do it.

The question is "are they parodying females as people, or the female gender role?" And if its the latter, then shouldn't it be women mocking femininity through performance?
Posted by doloresdaphne on December 4, 2012 at 8:48 PM · Report this
As a straight white old-ish woman, and a bone deep liberal handwringer, I didn't even dare to vote in the poll....
Posted by bareboards on December 4, 2012 at 9:00 PM · Report this
sirkowski 37
I feel like on some level it would be offensive, but I could be crazy.

You are indeed crazy. Please seek psychiatric help immediately.
Posted by sirkowski on December 4, 2012 at 9:12 PM · Report this
venomlash 38
@15: Fuck you, Tropic Thunder was hilarious.
Posted by venomlash on December 4, 2012 at 9:22 PM · Report this
Cephalodude 39
@35- I'm sorry you see drag that way. I'm not to trying to trivialize your opinion when I say I can't understand it and that I think it's horribly misinformed.

Drag isn't SUPPOSED to be offensive to women. It happens, but I'd say that it's not where its heart is. Drag, to me, is equal parts homage and parody, but the parody is not of women themselves but of female standards of beauty. In the act of going from man to queen, with all the hours, pain, and money that goes into that, I feel to some degree connected to the absurdity that is the female toilette, the same process that creates figures of incredible beauty but similarly marginalizes a lot of women. Good drag, again, is the dichotomy of honoring the female standard of beauty and the ferocious women that embody it while undermining it at the same time.

As a drag queen myself (the more widely accepted, gay male-identified dude that performs in drag and lives as a man variety) I've met a melange of queens. Drag is for everyone, of every gender identity and orientation not only to enjoy but also participate it.

Seriously, doing drag is the cat's ass.
Posted by Cephalodude on December 4, 2012 at 9:23 PM · Report this
seandr 40
@10: Nope. Robert Downey Jr in Tropic Thunder.
Posted by seandr on December 4, 2012 at 9:56 PM · Report this
Yes, but gay men in drag have to stop casually using the term "Tranny" that shit's offensive.
Posted by Voxpop on December 4, 2012 at 10:07 PM · Report this
I appreciate how considerate every here is, but I always thought that drag was nothing more than just about having fun with mom's or sister's makeup and wardrobe and playing being a girl (culturally forbidden for straight guys, but accepted with gay guys).
Posted by floater on December 4, 2012 at 10:20 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 43
People who find drag insulting are no-sense-of-humor saddos, no matter how much they try to dress it up with theories they got from old copies of Ms.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on December 4, 2012 at 11:08 PM · Report this
Even if you thought there were some kind of deep political issues in drag, and I don't, wouldn't the analogy of blackface be "drag is to women what blackface is to black people?"

Posted by kathygnome on December 5, 2012 at 5:09 AM · Report this
What the hell? I know there's a difference between drag and crossdressing but it's not all THAT huge, and most crossdressers are straight or bisexual, very few of them are outright gay. Does this poster live with the Amish or something?
Posted by Marrena on December 5, 2012 at 5:56 AM · Report this
Do you live with the Amish, Mary Traverse?
Posted by floater on December 5, 2012 at 7:51 AM · Report this
Dame Edna is probably the most successful straight man doing drag. Ever. Google him. or Bing it! Bing is still around, right?
Posted by nador on December 5, 2012 at 7:54 AM · Report this
Eddiz Izzard is a straight cis transvestite, or 'male tomboy.' He likes women's clothes and chooses to approach them in the same way women can wear clothing typically gendered male.

Cross-dressers are typically defined as straight men who dress as women for sexual gratification - though there's some controversy about this.

Neither crossdresser nor transvestite has anything to do with drag. And these three things have nothing to do with transgenderism, either.
Posted by johnjjeeves on December 5, 2012 at 8:46 AM · Report this
@43: "People who find drag insulting are no-sense-of-humor saddos, no matter how much they try to dress it up with theories they got from old copies of Ms"

In my travels, most of the people who find it insulting are either RadFems or transpersons, for different reasons, but their dislike generally stems from the more male privilege-oriented and grotesque elements of drag.
Posted by i can understand some uncomfortability on December 5, 2012 at 8:46 AM · Report this
seandr 50
@49: Chronically offended people are malingerers attempting who use their allegedly hurt feelings to manipulate and control others.

See the DSM definition of Factitious Disorder.
Posted by seandr on December 5, 2012 at 9:08 AM · Report this
michael strangeways 51
Drag has been around for centuries, in one form or the other, and it's never just been a gay thing.

Go slap on some Wet n Wild, foam rubber hips and that divine vintage muu muu you found at Red Light and have a good time.
Posted by michael strangeways on December 5, 2012 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Badger 52
Drag queens come in all genders and orientations - Mae Was certainly a drag queen, and she was both heterosexual and female!
Posted by Badger on December 5, 2012 at 11:23 AM · Report this
@50: You implied anyone who was offended, not "Chronically offended people". Perpetual victims are irrelevant to the discussion, using them to deligitimize others is pretty shitty.
Posted by come the fuck on now on December 5, 2012 at 12:36 PM · Report this
Big Matt G 54
@15) See, this is where we disagree. Tropic Thunder was the shiznit!
Posted by Big Matt G on December 5, 2012 at 1:44 PM · Report this

"But why couldn't they have cast POC as the characters instead of putting Tom Hanks in yellowface?"

First, Tom Hanks was not put in yellowface in Cloud Atlas. He happened to play a white male in every time period. Second, people of color WERE cast; Halle Berry, Doona Bae, Keith these people not count? Many of them, in addition to the white men, played characters of different races, ages, and sexes.

What's more, the question you ask is directly answered by the quote that precedes it in your comment. It's as though you didn't even read it. They put actors in roles of differing races, ages, and sexes for the express purpose of communicating the point that all people are connected, and that actions in one time echo throughout history and have fantastic and unforeseen ramifications tens or hundreds of years later. No one is trying to say that a trans person of color is "exactly the same" as a white man, so don't waste our time knocking down that straw man.
Posted by A person who liked Cloud Atlas but doesn't care for drag on December 5, 2012 at 11:37 PM · Report this
Woman here, who aspires to drag.

I am blessed with a deep voice that gets me called "sir" on the phone regularly, greater than average height for a woman, and somewhat broad shoulders. And I have the perfect beard: a really swishy gay guy to be my "date".

I want to pass as a man dressed as a woman, and be fabulous, and lip sync.
Posted by Susan on December 6, 2012 at 3:05 PM · Report this
Of all the acts at local drag night that I used to attend, which was once a week at a mostly straight bar, the ones that stand out the most were the staff and straight patrons who started out by accepting the night, the cheap drinks (and in case of the owners, the $) eventually getting up on stage. Seeing the straight guys doing a number or two was great. And they 'wercked' it. They cared about how they would come off, and they put a shit load more effort in then some of the paid acts. It's amazing what initially happened as a business move to fill up empty sunday space ended up transforming into something that changed minds and created allies to the point where the owners of the establishment consider the drag show patrons their friends and wanted to perform for them and do well.

Fuck yeah straight guys can do drag. More should.
Posted by Dan0581 on December 7, 2012 at 1:43 AM · Report this
pugetopolis 58

Can Str8t Guyz do Drag?—
Queried a curious Fag Hag
Well, of course, honey!!!
I’ll bet you Money!!!

They wanna get Pegged—
They’ve even begged
Gimme that Dildo!!!
And quick a Pillow!!!
Posted by pugetopolis http:// on December 7, 2012 at 8:00 PM · Report this
part 1 its not the clothes that make a person weather they have on whats called male or female clothers its whats on the inside that does not change what a person is by the cloth thats on their back.

part 2.... just look at what the females of today wear... they have on pants, jeans. mens sneakers, ties jacketsa mens coats amoung other things & nobody blinks an eye. but execpt for some actors, or on halloween (my fav holiday). if a guy put on anything thats deemed female he gets teased or beat up its not fair. yes im a crossdresser (novice) IM AFRAID TO GO OUT IN DRAG EVEN ON HALLOWEEN BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO BE TARGETED. on the lighter side if i win the 586 million dollars ill buy a piece of land in pa off of route 715 a defunked resort & turn into a cd tv fi ts tv & gender bending resort
Posted by brandi on December 17, 2013 at 10:28 AM · Report this

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