Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Queens, drag queens, etc.

Another theory about drag queens has been suggested to me. Since drag queens are essentially comedians, maybe they are just parodying certain extreme personality types you find among gay men. Kind of the way Jeff Foxworthy portrays the redneck. This stereotype is not a real person, but a highly exaggerated portrayal of a particular kind of effeminate gay man you might run into in certain social circles.

Sure, I’d buy that. That would explain why drag shows appeal to some straights too. But to my mind it only raises the question of why those gay men exist. Couldn't it be said that those types of gay men are allowing themselves to become parodies of straight women in a half-serious, half-mocking way? So then we have come full circle to the first theory about drag queens I posted yesterday, that they are in some way poking fun at straight women.

Now about these kinds of gay men, “queens” as one of my friends calls them. (I don’t know for certain if that isn’t a derogatory term, but since my friend is gay I’d rather go with his term than the ones some of my straight friends would use.) I can understand this kind of campiness as a comedic act, so from that angle drag queens make some sense to me. But I have more trouble understanding how someone gets to absorbing that campiness into their personality. I don’t want to believe it is entirely put on. Maybe some gay men really do feel that being effeminate is authentically “them.” And even though I don’t happen to believe that homosexuality is about gender-blending for most people, seeing how little we know scientifically about the origins of homosexuality, I’m open to the possibility that maybe this is the case for a certain percentage of the gay population.

That said, whenever I see so-called “queens” doing their thing—the whole bitchy, vain, smart-alecky, swishy deal—I also see someone who is putting themselves in a situation where they can be either laughed at or dismissed. Because even if being effeminate is really “him,” it seems to me he is putting it out there too aggressively, as if daring someone to knock it. And for another thing he is putting up a wall. I know there’s a real person in there. Am I ever gonna get to meet him? I mean, if Mr. Queen and I were stuck with each other in a cabin during a Colorado snowstorm, so bored there was nothing to do but chuck little wads of newspaper into the fireplace and watch the sparks kick up, and by 1 a.m. we got to talking about the meaning of life, the prospect of death, and the existence of God, I would hope that I’d discover an actual person in there who has some serious things to say. I’d think it would be unfair of me to hope otherwise.