Drag is many things. It’s expressive. It’s subversive. It challenges gender. It’s about looking and feeling fabulous or hideous or funny or fishy. Most importantly, it’s uniquely meaningful to each drag queen in their own way.
Take Eppie, for instance, a drag performer in London. In a recent video interview with Broadly, she describes a love for drag culture while preparing for a show. “I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs,” Eppie states. “I don’t do anything like that. I feel like going out and getting dressed up is really exciting for me. It’s a way of expressing myself.”
But the one thing that sets Eppie apart from the majority of drag queens is that she’s a cisgender woman. In regards to gender, Eppie says “I don’t really care about being a boy or a girl. It’s just almost being alien or something. I don’t want to sexualize myself. It’s just looking like something otherworldly really.” Eppie’s interview has led to an online debate on inclusivity and women doing drag within the community.
Many fans were supportive:
“Eppie is one of the most intelligent and talented people I have ever worked with. As one of her former teachers, I am delighted to see that she is not only an amazing designer/illustrator, but has added ‘visionary performance artist’ to her repertoire. It made me smile to see this.”
“This is like a dream for me! I love human being and all the expression of art that involves the self ❤ she is adorable, she is my spirit animal”
“Divine! Let her be happy and everyone else for that matter!”
While some denounced the idea of cisgender women doing drag.
“Wrong! Women can’t be queens! They can be performers but not queens. This is culture appropriation. Gay boys are teased and told by family/society that there to fem acting, to fem sounding, they behaviour to fem. They deal with that all their lives but once a Drag Queen, all that’s fem about them is celebrated! Queen was also a derogatory term used to fem shame gays. Women don’t have the right to call them selfs drag queens. It’s not their culture it’s not their heritage. Women haven’t been beaten/raped/sent to prison or murdered for dressing as a girl. This is really offensive and it’s another case of heteronormative privilege.”
“This is appropriation. Gay and queer men and trans women need drag, and it’s something they created – a culture, a world, an identity. If cis women want to dress up, that’s cool, but as you say, different terminology should be used. And I say that as someone who thinks these particular women look great – but they shouldn’t be stepping on any toes.”
And it’s important to note, as one commenter did, that trans women have always been a part of drag culture:
“Trans women have been doing drag just as long as gay men have. Trans women — specifically black and Latina women — are the ones who created and revolutionized drag as an art form and an expression of identity. So women have been doing this for decades already. Let’s give credit where credit is due.”
Eppie’s not the only cis woman making a name for herself in the drag world. Miss Malice is another female queen who is exploding in the Brooklyn drag scene.
Watch the video interview with Eppie as she prepares for her first drag performance.
Featured image via Broadly