The concept of drag has grown in popularity over the past decade due to the hit television show RuPaul’s Drag Race, but its art form has been around for way longer than that.
Strtgst, who labels themselves as an event series and community for people who think for a living, created an incredibly educational, inspiring and emotional event about the past, present and future of drag at the iconic Stonewall Inn on Wednesday, February 27 called Culture of Drag.
I consider myself someone who is well-versed in this genre, however there were so many aspects of it that I was unaware of up until that night. To have this kind of event at Stonewall Inn as well only intensified its importance given that it was drag queens at this establishment 50 years ago that were a big stepping stone in helping us secure the rights we have today.
Culture of Drag featured four different drag performers who spoke eloquently about the people and times of this art form. New York City’s very own Honey Davenport, who appears in this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, was one of the talented individuals who took to the stage for this all-important gathering.
This was the day before RPDR premiered, so emotions were high for Honey as her life has no doubt changed since then, however she played an amazing host that evening and kept the energy going with a fierce performance and hilarious comedy skills.
Gloria Swansong was first up, as she gave us a Drag Herstory 101 about the world’s oldest artform. She swiftly took us through drag’s past, which surprisingly dates back thousands of years. I had no idea that drag was a big thing in the 1800’s, as several male performers dressed and played the roles as females back then. This was widely accepted for a time where being LGBTQ was unheard of.
Drag has predominantly shifted culture over the past 50 years, thanks to films like The Queen, Paris is Burning and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and shows like RPDR. Gloria also touched on drag icons who have paved the way for the younger generations today, including RuPaul, Lady Bunny and Leigh Bowery. These are important figures that go beyond today’s drag dictionary and really put a stamp on this art form way before it became the phenomenon that it is today.
Miss Patsy Indecline was next. She got up on stage and discussed her own personal story that led her to the world of being a drag queen and the hurdles it took to get there. Every single person out there has a path, regardless of who they are, and Miss Patsy’s journey was a difficult one that eventually led her from the small-town aspects of South Carolina to the big city dreams of New York City. Her tales included her getting caught singing Dolly Parton by her father’s colleague to doing her sister’s chores just so she can put on her makeup and so much more. It’s a testament to Patsy for understanding who you are at a certain age, sticking with it, and turning it into something you can call a profession you love.
Thee Suburbia closed out the show and talked about how diversity is transforming the future of drag. The Brooklynite (originally from Wisconsin) passionately spoke about this topic and the importance of why this is necessary for the evolution of drag to continue in the right path.
Culture of Drag became an unbelievable night that gave me an entirely different perspective on this world. My hope is that each person out there brushes up on the history of drag so you can truly understand how we got to where we are today.
For more on The Stonewall Inn, click here.