March 1, 2023

What Are Drag Queens?

Drag queens are cross-dressers who wear women's clothing. To give off an appearance of being overly feminine, drag queens may also use false breasts and cosmetic enhancements to complete their transformation.

At the dawn of drag culture, performers were often part of Vaudeville - a theatrical genre that combined comedy, music and dancing.

Julian Eltinge, known as the first famous drag queen, achieved international stardom during the 1920s. Her success inspired a whole generation of performers.


Drag queens have a long and colorful history. They first began as male stage actors who performed female roles around the world, such as Greek drama or Japanese kabuki. Eventually, these drag queens gained popularity in America, thanks to William Dorsey Swann who introduced them to audiences there.

Drag has a long-standing tradition of breaking social barriers, shattering taboos and elevating performance art. It has changed how we perceive ourselves and others, becoming an essential component of modern culture.

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding drag, but the reality is that it has been around for centuries. From the 18th century when a man dressed as a woman was sentenced to death for homosexual act to the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning, drag has an interesting and vibrant history.

Drag is a form of performance art that has become increasingly popular, particularly among young people. Although often depicted as harmless entertainment, drag also has serious political undertones.

Despite its growing acceptance, the LGBTQ community remains vulnerable to attacks from those opposed to it. This is especially true in conservative areas where laws may be passed that restrict certain behaviors.

Some activists have been opposing drag story hours, which feature vibrantly-clad performers reading books to children. Protesters contend these performances are sexual and harmful to kids - an idea at odds with drag's many positive contributions to society.

According to research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, drag-for-kids and other events featuring colorfully attired performers have a more significant purpose. According to researchers Rachel Kornstein and Megan Keenan, these programs may not be so much about encouraging "family friendly" activities such as reading as much as prepping children for different forms of kinship.


Drag queens boast a diverse style. Some opt for vibrant and daring looks, while others opt for dark and gloomy looks inspired by horror films. Additionally, these drag queens use various makeup techniques and costumes.

Drag queens' style is determined by their personality and the performance they plan to give. Some may choose to portray a particular celebrity impression or message through their performances, while others are more interested in experimenting with different looks or themes for their shows.

Drag queens often invest a great deal of effort and resources into their wardrobe, makeup and hair. The goal is to create an eye-catching costume that draws attention from viewers and offers them a memorable experience.

They often spend hours in front of the mirror, honing their makeup and outfit. Some may also wear wigs or other accessories to complete their look and add to the realism of their character.

Some drag queens opt for a more feminine aesthetic, while others want to emphasize their masculine characteristics and features. These queens typically don more extensive makeup and use products designed specifically to accentuate their facial features.

Some drag queens prefer to be highly theatrical and outlandish with the aim of making their audience laugh. These queens are known as "camp" queens and often incorporate clown-like characteristics into their performances, painting and costumes.

Drag can be an incredibly draining endeavor, so it's essential to prioritize self-care and get plenty of rest. This is especially pertinent if you must travel frequently for shows, or spend extended amounts of time wearing uncomfortable costumes.


Drag queens are an eclectic group of individuals who perform in drag. They come in all different forms and sizes, from professional actors who star in films to those who simply do it for fun. But no matter their style or dedication, they all share one trait: they are highly creative individuals.

Drag often serves to express one's personal experiences with sexuality and gender identity. Many use it both to explore these subjects and release frustrations.

Drag performance art consists of using costumes, makeup and stage props to portray a character. Unlike other forms of entertainment, drag allows performers to break free from gender norms and explore their sexuality.

Drag performances often receive criticism for being demeaning, but they also offer an empowering experience. Drag artists express their creativity through costumes and make up, inspiring others through their performances.

Drag queens tend to be gay men, though some can also be transgender or cross-dressers. In fact, some trans women will continue performing in drag until they transition into being a woman.

Scientists are beginning to examine the psychology of drag culture and its members. One recent study focused on understanding why drag queens perform, considering what motivates them and what drives them.

Researchers Moncrieff & Lienard discovered that drag queens may be motivated by the desire to signal within the LGBTQ community in order to gain status and protection. This motivation was especially strong within drag ball cultures, which had strong senses of house ties and family values.


Drag queens are an underappreciated part of LGBTQ+ culture, yet their history dates back centuries and has spiritual and religious significance throughout ancient civilizations, according to Joe E. Jeffreys, professor of theater studies at New York University. As such, drag queens possess a special place in history as cultural manifestations that were first practiced centuries ago.

Drag is believed to have originated during Shakespearean theatre, when men donned costumes to portray female characters onstage. It is said that these dresses would "drag" along the floor - thus coining the term "drag."

Cross-dressing and female impersonation eventually became part of vaudeville, which combined comedy, music, and dance for an offbeat type of live entertainment. Julian Eltinge was one of the earliest known drag queens - a star in early 20th century vaudeville who popularized cross-dressing.

At this time, there was a vibrant drag ball culture emerging in cities like Berlin and Washington DC. These events were typically house parties attended by Black queer people as an expression of gender expression.

However, these clubs were mostly illegal and segregated, often raided by police. This sparked the Stonewall riots of 1969 - initially an uprising against police raids but ultimately becoming a fight for gay rights.

Despite this opposition, drag queen popularity grew and more self-identified women took on the role. For them it was an outlet to express their sexuality, gain notoriety, but it also provided them with a platform to form social circles and build communities.


Drag queen culture has seen a meteoric rise in recent years, with fans queuing up for hours to meet their idols. While drag has become an iconic cultural icon, it still hasn't fully been accepted by mainstream society.

Rachael Walsh, associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, noted that drag began as an underground political form where performers defied gender roles to express themselves and challenge society's norms. She added that drag also served to provide a platform for LGBTQ+ people to express themselves freely.

Drag queens have long been men dressed as women, but many contemporary queens are transgender individuals who use drag as a form of self-expression, according to experts.

Drag queens are renowned for their daring costumes, makeup and extravagant wigs, which can combine to create truly captivating performances, according to Shelton.

There is a longstanding literary tradition of men taking stage wearing women's clothing, culminating in Shakespeare's romantic comedy As You Like It when Rosalind disguises herself as Ganymede to win Orlando's affection.

Though drag is typically associated with gay culture, it can be practiced by anyone. In the 1980s, a group of New York City women known as International Gay and Lesbian Drag Association began hosting drag balls.

Queer women had a space to come together, and this became an integral part of Harlem Renaissance life during the 19th century. William Dorsey Swann - a former slave from Maryland who hosted several drag balls during the 1880s - is regarded as the "queen of drag".

Swann and other queens would put their young proteges through an extensive training program, teaching them about performing arts as well as how to dress and present themselves properly. This allowed them to become part of a community and find solace from daily struggles.

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