Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Answering questions in a context where the question can't be true.

This past weekend was my one year, Drag Show Anniversary. And I celebrated by going to another Drag Show! Nothing quite like watching people bend gender barriers, celebrating courage, and pride, and Lady Gaga.

I had several 'straight' friends join me for their first Drag Shows. Just as I mentioned one year ago on this blog, it was a cultural experience. One thing they noted was the diversity of people in attendance.

The other thing they noticed was the breaking of gender barriers.

Every new performance on stage was accompanied by the somewhat-but-not-entirely hushed query: "So, girl or guy?". I answered the questions, though as the night went on I did so with increased hesitation.

Because the point of the night was for that question not to be asked, but to be comfortable in the ambiguity of gender that exists for people all the time - all physical, sexual, and psychological. Answering the question made it seem as though the only way to determine gender is by looking at somebody's junk, even though the other two forms of gender that I mention (and I am sure the dozen other forms that I am not yet familiar with) also play an important role in determining how we identify.

So, the 'man' dressed in a shimmering golden mini-dress, is he a boy or girl? Or both, or neither, or the thing in the middle that isn't really allowed to have a name?

And, how does that reflect on me? I am a boy - I have testicles, and a scrotum, and I like playing with them. But I also have somewhat feminine tendencies at times - and these become more and more pronounced the more comfortable I become with myself. Am I a boy? Yes, and no. And I am not a girl, but I can be. And I am not that thing in the middle that doesn't have a name - though I probably could be.

In answering the queries as I did, I missed an opportunity to outline the mysteries and complexity of gender, not only for transgendered people, or for drag queens, but in how they affect my everyday existence. And I sold out the soul of the show - the soul of pride, courage, mystery, and Lady Gaga.