Drag Culture: A Love Story

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Posted by Devyani Mahajan
bisexual, cisgender female
she/her

Artwork by Bhavya Sharma
bisexual, non-binary

I’m fairly new to the world of drag. It’s that phase when I have started picking up drag lingo and unintentionally using it in my daily conversations. Just the other day I got a weird stare from my brother for complimenting him with a “work it, honeyy” and snapping my fingers. But I’ll take those weird stares because I love it. I’ll tell you why because it goes beyond drama on Drag Race or serving looks that I wish I could. But before that, let’s talk about RuPaul.

I started off with drag through drag race but now I see so much more in the world of drag than just reality TV. Youtube is filled with drag artists of all colour, orientation, gender who are doing their jobs brilliantly but more than that – making us happy. While Drag Race is an integral part of why we know of drag today, remember that it doesn’t stop there. There are drag kings, non-binary artists, trans artists that Drag Race hasn’t been able to successfully include. And it’s not supposed to. It’s on us and on social media. Drag Race at the end of the day is made for consumer and therefore will tap into the most demanded drag and that’s Drag Queens. It’s on us to go beyond that if we truly love and support drag.

But why would you love and support it?

Drag changed my perspective on beauty and confidence completely. I fell in love with these men who expressed creativity in multiple layers, talked about LGBTQ+ issues and constantly fought for recognition from their families and friends. I became a huge fan of Sasha Velour, because she wore her art and intelligence with grace. Her beauty was unconventional but still gave me shivers – and not everything works up my nervous system like that.

I think the most powerful thing about drag was how you can project yourself to be anyone as long as it’s your truth. Because if it’s your truth, people believe it when they see it.
One of Sasha’s videos talks about the history of LGBTQ+ rights and how drag artists have always been present, even before the term drag was coined – and it made a lot of sense. Men were anyway doing drag when women weren’t allowed to perform, but when theatre also became inclusive of women – they took up roles of the other gender. That’s when drag first began and from then on it became less revered, more underground and stopped being called art.

What’s most underrated is the hard work that goes into drag – the hair (or no hair), the expensive clothes, the hours of makeup, the performances and a 100 other things. The more you watch, the more artistry you derive.

I haven’t had the chance to watch an Indian drag performance live but thanks to social media, I at least get the dull thrill of watching snippets of performances on my phone. Performers like Betta Naan Stop and Lush Monsoon are doing something that’s extremely alien to the current Indian generations – but they’re succeeding in creating a wave of drag in India. I watch them and I feel more associated with drag  because now it’s not just white people, and the idea seems more attainable for young indians.

All drag artists are beautiful for being a brilliant expression of artistry. They’re beautiful, they’re models, they’re Linda Evangelista. This is a thank you note for you all.

I probably sound like a nerd follower of drag and not the chill, party person – but that’s my truth and drag’s taught me to own up to it.


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