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Drag Queens and the Women Who Love Them

May 13, 2015

  • Featured image credit: Brady Hess – Karma LiLoLa

    Drag is by no means a new phenomenon. For centuries, gender bending and gender play have been a part of mainstream and subversive entertainment alike. From Roman theatre to RuPaul’s Drag Race, when it comes to drag queens we’ve seen it all before and, more importantly, we’ve loved it every time.
    I fell in love with drag during university when a group of queer undergrads got together to form the Bad Romantics Cabaret. Every show was packed to capacity with clapping, cheering and wolf-whistling students lapping up every second of the tongue-in-cheek, sequin-studded, satirical entertainment orgy that was a Bad Romantics show. That initial introduction to drag performance has turned into a longer-term love as I’ve found myself in awe of drag queens across the globe. Drag queens like Brooklyn’s Mocha Lite, London’s Jonny Woo and Austria’s Conchita Wurst.
    It seems I’m not the only queer woman to have a deep love of drag queens, though. When talking to friends about this post an overwhelming number of women gushed about how much they enjoyed drag. Many attend live shows and nearly all watched RuPaul’s Drag Race. One friend, Rosa, accurately summed up the general feeling with her message: “I f*cking love drag queens!!!!!” That’s right. Five exclamation marks. That’s a lot of love.
    Karma LiLoLa_Closet

    Karma LiLoLa – Photo credit: Brady Hess

    For Rosa, her love of drag queens stems from the “sisterly bond” she has developed with the “drag queens who raised [her] in San Francisco’s clubs” during her baby queer days. For me, these larger than life characters are inspirational embodiments of the power of self-expression. Karma LiLoLa, a fashionista queen and one of the founding members of the Bad Romantics Cabaret, told me that she feels a deep admiration from audience members when she performs. Discussing the power of performance for personal expression, she told me that both drag performers and “trans* people risk their lives for their gender expression.” For Karma, when she is “wearing the right clothes, [she] feels invincible.”
    Kyra Fey_Stonewall

    Kyra Fey performing at The Stonewall Inn

    Eighties power-suit-wearing, no-nonsense-taking queen Kyra Fey echoed these sentiments exactly. In performance, Kyra Fey attempts to “embrace femininity in a way that is refreshing and powerful” and in return she has seen a huge amount of support from female fans; many of whom have donated bras and clothes to support the cost of her performances. When I asked Kyra why she thought there was so much support for her work, she put it simply: “Drag is a big celebration of performance and self-making that a lot of people, especially the queer community, identify with.”
    Kyra Fey

    Kyra Fey – Photo credit: Indrani Lukomski

    While drag isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and there is no denying the not-so-subtle misogyny that can underpin some drag performances, for me drag is about celebrating womanhood and female strength in all its forms. Long may we continue to celebrate our female awesomeness and express our womanhood however we feel appropriate.

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