Drag History Month

Between Hallmark and various national disease-based organizations it’s hard to think of a group or condition that doesn’t already have an official (or unofficial) Day, Week or Month. One of the newest such celebrations is National Drag History Month; January 2010 is the second celebration.

First declared last year by Logo (a ‘gay cable channel’); this year they have prepared a PSA (‘Public Service Announcement’) featuring Bebe Zahara Benet. She is the winner of last year’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” – also on Logo. The second season of the show will start playing next month.

Although I’ve never felt a desire put on heels or make-up, I appreciate the skill, fortitude and dedication it takes to do that on a regular basis. One of my former partners had done drag before we met and each Hallowe’en (and many a GCDC* dance) he would use that experience and his artistic talent to ‘dress up’. More and more over the past decade the fights by Gay communities for recognition of our basic human rights has contributed to a lessening of our diversity. I am tired of hearing how Drag Queens and Leatherfolk should be hidden or shunned as “they set back the fight“.

The fact remains that as long as we are prepared to ‘throw under the bus’ Drag artists, leatherfolk, trans people or anyone else that merely ‘hurts our image’ we are as guilty of oppression and discrimination as those we are supposedly fighting against. Growing up as an openly-gay man in Toronto last century it was considered ‘common knowledge’ that the two main groups of people who resisted, indeed fought back, that weekend in June of 1969 when NYPD raided the Stonewall Inn were the Drag artists and leatherfolk. I was not yet a teenager when it happened, so I don’t know the accuracy of the statement, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.

* GCDC is the former Gay Community Dance Committee which acted as an umbrella organization to help a growing collection of Toronto- area gay community groups raise funds by holding larger dances than each group could successfully do themselves.

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