A not-at-all exhaustive list of things to watch, read, and do before you participate in drag as a cisgender, white, and/or straight person.
-Trixie isn’t the person I would choose to share this info, but this is a pretty good rundown of the history of drag.
–’Underground Ball Culture’ from Grinnell College Subcultures and Sociology
-An excellent collection of resource highlighting and sharing the stories of the New York City ball scene that emerged in the 1960s.
–”Ball Slang, Categories, and Everything About Vogue” from The House of Naphtali
-A working dictionary and glossary of terms you have heard on Drag Race or co-opted by white queer folks and the true meanings as created by Black queer folks.
–”In the Kiki Ballroom Scene, Queer Kids of Color Can Be Themselves” from The Atlantic
-Highlights the ways in which drag houses aren’t just cute quirky names for a friend group but vital support systems that many queer POC youth depend upon when their biological family rejects them.
-Very brief but gives a voice to folks who ACTUALLY participate in the art form that inspired modern drag.
-A TEDx Talk from a local House/Ballroom leader since 1993. Great glimpse into the lives of the queer POC folks who pioneered and maintained this community.
-Peppermint speaks at length about the need for us to make room for folks of all genders in the drag world. If you are not ACTIVELY working to make sure the work you do and the art you create doesn’t just include and center cis white gay men, then you are perpetuating the transphobia that keeps the people who created this art locked out of it.
–”Paris is Burning” feature length documentary
-Considered the premiere film documenting life in the 1980s drag/ball scene. As of April 2021, it is not available on any major streaming service, but can be purchased for $3.99 on Apple TV/iTunes.
–”Disclosure” from Netflix
-An incredible documentary by and featuring trans folks that digs into the stereotypes and messages perpetuated by media portrayal of trans folks. When shows like Drag Race and even Dragula fail to include enough trans contestants, they help these stereotypes remain strong and continue to harm trans POC.
–”The Complicated Truth About Female Drag Queens” from Refinery29
-A group of women creating space for themselves in the world of drag as performers.
–’Deafies in Drag’ on YouTube
-Deaf drag queens who create and act out skits and other content. I had the opportunity to see Casavina and Selena live and they are hilarious, so incredibly kind, and of course, GORGEOUS!
A collection of black and white photos depicting the vibrant drag ball culture of New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Washington D.C. The book contains the essay “The Queer Undercommons,” by Frank Roberts and an interview with Photographer Gerard Gaskin: https://vimeo.com/78295592
A document illustrating how sexuality and race manifested in the Ballroom Scene of NYC, using photography by Chantal Regnault and interviews with key figures from the movement.
-What does drag mean to you? What do you hope to gain from it?
-Find AT LEAST 5 drag artists who aren’t from Drag Race and who go beyond the common cis white male profile we elevate in drag. Find artists that go beyond mainstream queen drag. Find artists that are disabled, immigrants, or who come from different faith backgrounds than what you may be familiar with. Follow their social media, learn more about their work, and find ways you can support them, even if they don’t perform in your area. Elevate the folks who get silenced in this community in favor of folks who benefit from their marginalization.