In the drag community, impersonating a female is understood when you go out in drag, and female impersonator is a lovely term to dress it up or help someone understand what is being done/accomplished. But I say, call a spade a spade, and just use the term “drag queen.”
It is an accepted term in our community, although not every time a positive one. But when one uses other terms like female impersonator or (trans)gender illusionist, those of us who love it are accused of putting on airs. That’s why I say just keep it real and say drag queen.
You’re in Dr.A.G. anyway (dressed as girl), and when we speak highly of the trailblazers in 1969 who “cut up” outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City, we say drag queens every time, don’t we? We sure do.
Drag queens are a big part of our community, whether we like it or not, whether we’re embarrassed of it or not. As I write this, I think of the old, ever-popular quote from the very first Miss Gay America, Norma Kristie, brought to the stage by one Norman Jones of Little Rock, Ark.: “Drag is the definitive form of gay entertainment.”
He did not say female impersonation. Ahem.
As far as gender identity implications go, I’m thinking that a transgender girl who does stage work might not look favorably on the term drag queen unless they are “old school” and have been doing it for a while; I’m not sure. Here, the term “impersonator” might go over better.
Does that mean that the drag queen term is reserved for guys who live as guys (“boy queens”) and do stage work? I don’t think so. But what I do know is, it is a quick way to keep an entertainer in check or on their feet!
I’ve seen some conniving queens run up to young gentlemen who were being pursued by the more beautiful entertainers and exclaim, “Well, you know she’s just a drag queen!” — as if it were a put-down!
Thank goodness that there are those who get even more excited to confirm that their suitors were indeed born male and still have the plumbing intact.
This brings me to whether I think the off-stage life might be different for a queen versus an impersonator. I have a feeling there would be little to distinguish one from the other. “Do it” or “live it,” everyone likes attention and appreciation for their theatrical contributions. Many have great talents that need to be displayed on a stage, and some have made lucrative careers out of it.
After all, I think all of us just want to contribute and make a living and be loved by family and friends, whether we’re a drag queen or a female impersonator.