(Image photographed by Adam Pulicicchio, posted on Toronto Life)
Drag is a type of entertainment most often performed by gay men known as drag queens. They usually present themselves in an exaggeratedly feminine manner, and use over-the-top humour as part of the art form. Women, usually queer, also participate in drag, and they are known as drag kings.
Drag is not the same as being transgender or cross-dressing. Transgender is a type of gender identity. Drag has nothing to do with gender, and is something drag queens choose to do. Cross-dressing is done by an individual and is a private choice, while drag is done in community and performative.
The origin of drag can be traced all the way back to Shakespearean times. As women were not allowed to perform in theatre, the female roles would be played by men dressed as women. However, this is not drag as we understand it today. The modern form of drag started in the late 1800’s.
Recently, drag has been targeted by the right-wing. The controversy surrounds drag storytime, which is an event where a drag queen reads books to children. Drag storytime has become popular across North America and is done in schools, libraries and other places.
Unfortunately, drag storytime, especially in the US, has become a target of hate. Threats are being sent and some drag story hours have even been physically stormed. Conservatives are afraid that drag queens would “sexualize and indoctrinate” children, even though there has been no evidence of this ever happening.
In Canada, drag storytime has also attracted protestors. One such incident occurred in Woodstock, Ontario. Thankfully, the queer community, parents and cishet people have doubled down on supporting these events. The protesters are the ones scaring and harming children, not drag queens. Drag storytime promotes love and inclusion, and is a fun way for children to spend an afternoon.
If you’re interested, look up if your local library is running drag storytime!