Obviously I’m going to start off talking about the fact that the Stonewall Riots were started by a black trans+ woman. Marsha P Johnson was credited with throwing the first brick. Did you know that when asked she said that the P in her name stood for “pay it no mind” (referring to her gender). Trans+ people have been included in queer rights since the start,* but as the title suggests, the discussion we had about what to do for this blog post suggested that this was not the way to go for the full post.
The main topic of this blog, however, is drag. Do drag queens still have a place in Pride events?
It is a topic that brings up a lot of feelings for a lot of people. On the one hand you have the people who perform in drag or enjoy watching drag, for whom this may not even be a question – of course they belong in Pride. “They’re fun, they’re subversive and we love them.”
On the other hand you have some transfemme* people who feel that drag undermines, mocks or trivialises their identities and invades their space. From this perspective – of course they do not belong at Pride. “They’re devaluing us and we feel mocked.”
Another group that we hear less about is transmasc* people who may chose to use drag as an expression of another side of their ‘self’. Or to escape the confines (or boredom) of masculine-presenting clothing (let’s face it, much of men’s clothing can be plain!). Or just to play with gender expectations in the way they were taught to as children.
There is no right or wrong answer to the drag queen question. But to drag queens and their lovers and haters alike, I say this: Please remember that there are other perspectives, and above all, be kind.
For more info on how a trans woman started the Stonewall riots, look up Marsha P Johnson, Storm de Laverie, and Sylvia Rivera
Transfemme – people assigned male at birth but identifying as female or non-binary
Transmasc – people assigned female at birth but identifying as male or non-binary