We asked qnotes readers to give us their personal thoughts on the drag community and its impact on the LGBT community and the gay pride movement. Below is a response from Janice Covington:
The art of Drag is a very serious part of the LGBT community. Being a Drag Queen makes you a member of a unique family that many others don’t understand. I hope this article will enlighten you in a way that will help you understand and give them the respect that many of them deserve. Drag Queens have been known worldwide, like the renowned Drag Company Phenocio’s in San Francisco from 1940 to 1991. Baton’s in downtown Chicago is also a well-known nightspot since late 1968.
Drag Queens have been known to be the leaders of and staging protest like the Compton’s Cafeteria demonstration in 1967 and the Stonewall neighborhood bar in New York City in 1969. If there is trouble the Drag Queen is at the forefront of the problem to make a stand and take action. Drag Queens patrolled the streets in the tenderloin of San Francisco as the Lavender Panthers to protect the gay community from assaults and murder during 1970 to 1974.
Drag Queens have been out and proud for many years before the Gay movement started in Philadelphia or any organized equality group such as HRC. The first organized Drag Queen group was the Imperial Court in 1964. Many Drag Queens’ offer support to the community in many ways, from Bingo’s to pride festivals and to raise money for both the red and pink ribbons. I have never seen a pride event without a Drag Queen riding on a float, displaying her crown or gracing the makeshift stage to entertain you during the festival. Drag Queens will be there when it counts.
What makes a Drag Queen is true grit, dedication and a strong sense of pride. A Drag Queen has to be strong to take the ridicule that many people even from our own community dish out because of misunderstanding. They must be strong because many will never have the chance of being a CEO of a bank or upper management of a large corporation. Not because Drag Queens are uneducated, on the contrary they are very intelligent and can hold a very educational conversation. Many have college degrees and also they advance their education through the community college system. But because of the fact that most choose to wear their badge of honor as a Drag Queen can only do. This outer pride causes many in our community to feel a drag queen is to flamboyant and only good for a show on a Saturday night at the club. I can relate because I am proud to be a transgender/drag queen myself. I have been in meetings with some LGBT organizations that speak of drag queens as a lower part of our community. How easy they forget the sacrifices that Drag Queens have made in recent history. Being a Drag Queen is not just wearing woman’s clothes but also is a state of being who they are.
Drag Queens have a sense of loyalty to each other in the Drag community. Oh sure there is atamonsity and arguments among each other but never holding a grudge. I have seen arguments and hard feelings, and then in the next minute they are helping each other through a crisis or with getting ready for a show. Never for one minute think you can get over on one without the whole lot of them jumping back on you. Drag Queens’s stick together no matter what city they travel they have friends off commonality. Drag Queens are a unique people and are very family oriented, unlike others of the LGBT community.
Doing Drag takes a very talented dedicated person to move from armature to professional statues. It takes a lot of financial support for makeup; material to make clothes if you know how, or like me buy some anywhere you can lol. It takes a lot of preparation whether just doing one number or doing a pageant. To a Drag Queen it is a privilege to entertain on stage, she never makes back what she spends. So the next time you see a Drag performer entertaining at the club, show your support by tipping her. Give her, her honor due. : :