By Irisdian Mayare
For most people, drag queens mystery but for others the growing visibility of drag queens hard to ignore. Drag queens in essence are men that choose to dress in stereo typically female attire (including, but not limited to, dresses, skirts, blouses, high heels, jewelry, and makeup), and sometimes putting up a parody of women with higher voices and flamboyant performances to match.
Although there have been few recognized drag queens throughout history, some have managed to escape obscurity. For example, the drag queen Divine broke out into Hollywood in the movie Hairspray (1988), playing the main protagonists mother. He appeared in 15 films throughout his career. Even now, the character of Edna Turnblad continues to be played by men in his owner, most notably John Travolta in Hairspray’s latest return to the big screen.
Drag queens have gone from being completely hidden in the shadows and hated, to being more known to the general public. The tv show RuPaul’s Drag Race, led by infamous drag queen RuPaul, has been one of the ways drag queens have entered popular culture. It has been running for 7 seasons now, and has just recently started their 8th season.
Just the show has allowed many drag queens to enter the spotlight like they never could’ve before.
“The most successful queens from the show are now releasing albums and touring the world constantly, playing to sold out clubs, bars and sometimes theatres,” said Ben Neutze on dailyreview.com.au. Without the show to share their talents to the world, those same people wouldn’t be as successful, if at all, and drag queens wouldn’t be as known either.
Amyjo says it “humanizes the gay and trans communities for the folks who aren't exposed to them on a daily basis, and provides wicked entertainment”.
Carmen M Colon says the show “advocates against bullying, is about self esteem and self confidence and promotes love of self and respect for others, all the while being light hearted”.
You can really see the way they have been more publicly accepted especially by following popular films and musicals. Before, the main movies people would mention when talking about drag queens would be the cult-followed Rocky Horror Picture Show. Now, however, recent recreations of Hairspray, and the Broadway productions of Kinky Boots and Hedwig and the Angry Inch can be added to the list. Hedwig, in particular, began it’s new run with Neil Patrick Harris headlining, and earned upwards of 1 million per week throughout his run.
It’s not only in tv shows and musicals that you can see the change, though. It’s all pretty universal. In China, drag queens have been finding acceptance as well. As in San Francisco, too, they’ve been more accepted by the public seeing as a “Drag Queen Story Hour” for children was held in a public library.
With increased public acceptance also comes people standing up for drag queens and asking that their existence gets better represented in society, as done with a lot of minorities already. When the movie Stonewall about the historic LGBT Stonewall riots was heavily boycotted and ended in failure largely because people were angered that two major people of the riots, drag queens Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, weren’t featured as big parts of the movie.
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