How Drag Queens Break Social Norms

Drag Queens are performance artists who dress in clothing and accessories that exaggerate femininity and feminine gender roles with a primarily entertaining purpose.

They often exaggerate make-up such as eyelashes for dramatic, comedic or satirical effect. Drag queens are closely associated with gay men and gay culture, but can be of any sexual orientation or gender identity.

Auntie Depressant performing at Chumash auditorium to Juice by Lizzo.
Photographed by Sofia Clark

They vary widely by class, culture, and dedication, from professionals who star in films to people who try drag very occasionally. Nonetheless, they are all collectively doing one thing: breaking gender norms.

Gender norms are behaviors and traits that society attributes to a particular sex. 

“Drag is honestly just a big gender fuck,” says Nova Caine, a local performer from Cal Poly’s drag club and soon to be president, “people see you and they are shook because you are everything they were taught is wrong.”

Drag queens combine stereotypical feminine gender ideals and put them against a backdrop of masculinity, which to many people is confusing .

“People very clearly know we are men,” says Regina Flores, current drag club president, “it is our tenacity and glamour that draws them in.”

For some, drag is about simply breaking these norms and producing entertainment, but for others it is about exploring gender fluidity through art and self expression.

Sasha Velour, winner of Rupaul’s drag race season nine comments on this in an interview with Out Magazine. ” I don’t think that drag is really about impersonation,” says Velour, ” it’s about myth-making and rewriting — not going after a real or known idea, but playing with concepts and fantasies, which are so much juicier.”

Velour’s one women show touches on important topics that some may be too afraid to speak about.

Queer issues, gender fluidity, the trans community and queer rights are just some of the topics talked about in this one woman show.

Kim Chi, a Chicago based drag queen commented on Velour’s performance , saying “it changed my perspective on how endless the possibility of drag is.”

Whether you are breaking gender norms or expressing and voicing issues that are important in the world today, drag queens are truly artists in their own categories.

Go out and support you local queens!

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