Queer culture in isolation

Drag, esp trans people’s involvement in drag, is a controversial subject at best. I don’t defend the common place racism, sexism, transphobia, etc aspects of so many drag acts, shows, and more. It’s awful, and for whatever it’s worth, I did my best to challenge that stuff, but I recognise even the shows I produced had problems.
As for post-medical transition people performing drag, of one variety or another: I support it. There’s more to drag than how one looks and lip sinks; drag is a form of entertainment. If what you did was entertaining, it wasn’t your hormones and/or surgeries that made it entertaining, it was your talent as a performer ergo it’s drag, however much it may align (or not) with your gender off stage.

The 1st time I stepped into a gay bar, there was a drag queen show going on. Watching the crowd cheer and tip them instantly made me feel like my non-conformity was finally safe. It wasn’t just my queer attraction but my (then hypervisible) gender that were welcome and would be nurtured there. I had stage managed and otherwise been involved in theatre in high school, and in no time, I was asked if I would help produce drag shows. The rest, as they say, was history. For a number of years, I was involved in a minimum of one drag show per week, but I averaged 2 to 3. Many of the queens I worked with, esp from my earliest years, were poz cis men and trans women. They taught me a great deal about resilience, queer culture, community history, chosen family and just life in general. Another poz queen has recently passed away from complications. Former drag performers have reached out to me, I to them, and I’m constantly grateful for internet keeping me as connected as one can be despite geography.

The dozen trans women I’ve met locally, while on average 20-30 years older than me, are only a few years out, the HIV epidemic didn’t ravage through their social networks like it did to many of my drag friends. None of them have disclosed being poz to me (and given some of the things they have shared, I feel pretty confident at least 1 would have by now if they were. I make it known I’m anti stigma, pro-harm reduction, pro-decriminalisation, etc)

 

My local crush, though they’ve expressed feeling non-binary and not being straight, is culturally cishet. One of the sticking points between us is my extremely strained relationship to my parents of origin. They know my parents, and have their own relationship to them independent of me. But my parents have never abused them nor drink in excess around them. They’ve experiences some of the less awful, but still shitty things personally; it’s not that they don’t believe me at all. But not wanting to believe it gets as bad as I’ve shared, and not being part of queer culture, where strained or estranged relationships to family of origin is common, they ascribe to the cishet cultural belief in the unconditional love between parent and child, and thus the importance of valuing this beyond rational measure.

My father of origin is gravely ill, he’s not dying next week but it will be sooner rather than later. I’ve known this for a while and haven’t gone to visit him because of our complicated relationship, compounded by my super strained relationship to my mother. I shared how this has been impacting me, but my crush wasn’t able to understand what I was conveying. Making things harder is that they lost their dad prematurely to illness; they genuinely believe they relate more to what I’m going through than we actually can on this.

 

In short, I’m feeling the queer isolation. It’s gone on since I emigrated, it’s not new. Thank goodness for the internet. I wish I had a sense of how to better deal with this while still pursuing the things I emigrated to accomplish. When I went back to visit recently, I bought a few books on the history and current debates. I’ll read that while the time difference between here and there keeps my social media quiet.

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4 thoughts on “Queer culture in isolation

  1. I also found a place to explore my identity in the local drag scene, although, I was still young and painfully introverted, so I never talked to anyone except for my 2 drag buddies. That’s awesome that you helped put on the shows! did you also perform? if so, what genre / look were you going for?

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    • Thanks! I performed as well, esp at first. I could be counted on to be around to fill in the time for performers who were less than reliable, hah! The better I got to know who was who and sharpened my producer skills, the fewer unrealiable performers I booked, so it became less frequent. I have way more fun behind the stage than on it: much more up my introvert alley. But I had 3 solo drag personas:
      1 younger, kinky gender norm breaker
      1 older, more sensual guy
      1 tough as nail woman.
      I was also occasionally a part of a troop that queered up boy bands, 80s and 90s classics.

      What did you do?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I mostly did 80s new wave music in a scene where it was either country music or contemporary dance / club / r and b stuff. My 2 friends and I never quite clicked with the group. Would you want to write a one-off short story about a particular “drag moment” for my blog? I do “drag king stories” sporadically. Lemme know – it’d be fun to feature a story by you!

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