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Dragging My Ass

2005-01-04 - 11:09 a.m.

Last night I was supposed to keep my New Year's Resolution with the help of Ms. Firecracker over at Nasty's, but instead we will be hanging out this evening at a bar, hopefully doing some serious dancing and having ourselves a time with a bunch of friends. After coming home last night and learning to live with the disappointment of not shakin' my ass, I was happy to see that a serendipitous consequence of not dancing was a chance to see Wigstock, which I have never seen before, Wigstock being an annual drag queen concert in New York City. It had me feeling very nostalgic. The documentary had been filmed in 1993 and 1994, the early years of the Clinton Administration. RuPaul was an international celebrity at the time (although miss thang will always be a superstar). It seemed as though queer liberation was only a few years away, and even though I thought I was straight at the time, I was a big supporter of queer rights and was looking forward to the day when we would look back at the era of queer persecution as tragic, ignorant, and above all, over.

However, I am living in a time when CBS has decided not to air an ad from the United Church of Christ, because it depicts gay and lesbian couples being happily included as part of their family. The message is that this is a church that believes that queer people have as much of a right to the kingdom of heaven as any other group of people, and that if God is love then all forms of love should be celebrated. CBS has refused to air this ad, claiming that the president of the United States has made it clear that these relationships are not acceptable in America, and that they have a moral obligation not to put this ad on their television.

Well, here you have it, folks. We have finally reached the point where Christian churches are suffering from religious persecution in the United States. Oh, how proud the founding fathers would be of us today! Well, I say finally, but it's been happening since day one.

It really kills me that this is CBS, too, because a decade or two ago they were a haven for liberal television. I grew up with Julia Sugarbaker of Designing Women as a hero, a gentile Southern woman who felt no shame in opening up a can of verbal whop-ass on anyone who stood for the racism, discrimination, and hypocrisy of the Old South. As if she weren't enough, she was usually preceded by Murphy Brown and her epic struggle with Dan Quayle over her having a baby out of wedlock (I love the word wedlock--it rally sums up the institution, don't it?). I remember the episode when she confronted that situation, when the show edited the speech to make it seem as though he were talking about a real person, and she just stood on the stage of her news magazine show with a group of people and introduced a number of families that didn't fit into Quayle's defintion of the word. Then, she sent a truck full of potatoes to his house and had them dumped on his front door.

I can't remember what comedian said this, but don't you long for the days when the VICE President was an imbecile?

I wish I could say that boycotting CBS would be a big thing for me, but I only ever watch The Amazing Race and I actually missed this entire season. However, I don't feel like I ever need to watch CBS again at this point. Murphy and the Sugarbakers are long since sent over to the Lifetime network, and the station that once helped me learn to stand up to Republicans has now folded to them.

Despite all this, it makes me happy to know that there is at least one church with enough brains, heart, and balls to reach out to the queer community with something other than a pamphlet reading "Repent!" And it made me very happy to watch Wigstock. There were a lot of drag queens that I hadn't seen in a while, like RuPaul herself and The Lady Bunny and Lypsinka, all redefining the word fabulous. There were fat drag queens and skinny drag queens, punk drag queens and glam drag queens, drag queens who lived as women and drag queens who lives as men, drag queens who lip-synched and drag queens who sang, and even a drag queen or two that was actually born a woman, because denying drag queenliness to women is an appalling form of sex-discrimination. There were even little baby drag queens, young enough for their gender to not be obvious, wearing wigs and dresses and having the time of their toddler lives. That, to me, was the most beautiful: children who have yet to be taught that certain kinds of love and certain forms of self-expression are evil just because they don't match up with what everyone else does, even if those loves or self-expressions don't hurt anybody or anything except maybe the feet that are in those eight-inch stilettos. And no, the babies were not wearing eight-inch stilettos, although I think a baby or two could have taken a nap in one.

I have realized that I want to becom more militant, and to me that means not being afraid to dress in drag, and truth be told I have resisted drag for the worst reason imaginable: body image. The one time I ever did complete drag with tits was when I was playing a Jewish grandmother onstage, and that wasn't quite drag because I wasn't playing my own character, I was playing a part in a play. In order to get clothes, I had to go to Lane Bryant, and on that day I totally felt for every single friend I had who had ever shopped there, because that is a store that needs to rachet up it's fabulous quotient, although I hear that they have some great new stuff in. But that's my problem, thought--my already not-great body image issues are exacerbated by the idea of wearing women's clothing. I am guilty of lookist, anti-feminist beauty myth thinking and I am ashamed.

However, these drag queens reminded me that the voices that tell me I'm too fat for drag are the same ones that tell me that being gay is wrong and that Mexicans are stupid and that I should spend all my money to make myself look like Brad Pitt and vote like John McCain, to which I say FUCK! THAT! Seriously, FUCK! THAT! A few years ago I read an opinion piece in The Advocate (it wants to be the gay Time, but it's really the gay People, although these days Time and People are hard to tell apart) about how it was the drag queens and leatherqueers who were keeping us from getting our rights. What killed me about this was that it was written by an African American man. Well, honey, if the African American community really wanted to fit in, its members could bleach their skin and straighten their hair, and Latinos could change their names and stop speaking Spanish, and Asians could have plastic surgery to make their eyes bigger, and we could all move to suburbia and drive SUVs and vote Republican, and America would be a truly horrifying place.

Fuck. That.

Another movie I recently saw was The Chronicles of Riddick on payperview (which, when I'm at my dad's, I don't have to pay for). It wasn't as bad as I assumed it was gonna be. It's about a fanatical religion that's taking over the universe, and there's a scene in it where a bunch of multiethnic people refuse to convert and one of them has their soul ripped out, so everyone says fuck it, we're converting. Well, however far the fanatics in this coutnry get, I am not converting. I hope the United Church of Christ doesn't convert, either, and I hope they have the good sense to let drag queens in. You haven't seen a church hat until you've seen one worn by a fierce black drag queen. Trust.

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The End - 2005-02-11
Let's Go on With the Show - 2005-01-30
The Curse, and This Bee's a Keeper - 2005-02-01
Sisters Lolita and Matronic Explain It All for You - 2005-01-31
Cowboys and Medievalists - 2005-01-30

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