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Articles > LGBTQ+ August, 04, 2017

The Lesser-Known Art Of Drag Kinging

Caurtney Nicholson
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Now, many of you may have heard of the popular TV show “RuPaul’s Drag race”, with fabulous drag queens who strut their stuff and sashay away like there’s no tomorrow. But have you heard of a drag king?

drag king putting on makeup

(Pic by Gaelx)

Drag kinging, of course, isn’t as flamboyant as drag queening. There’s only so much you can do to make yourself into a male persona without going overboard and ending up looking like a prepubescent teenage boy who just found some makeup without any idea of what to do with it.

It may not sound difficult – just put some masculine clothes on and a fake beard… sorted right? Wrong. Drag kinging is as much of a pain in the arse as drag queening. Sure, you don’t have to worry about your eyeliner being on fleek or if your eyeshadow is blended, but the amount of contouring you must do to have masculine features is outrageous.

Above all, to be a drag king you also have to make up a whole new personality. You can be anything you want to be – from a gym rat to a nerdy lad. But my persona is neither of these. Instead Dylan McDyke is the laddish character who couldn’t care less about what people have to say. He is flirtatious but reserved, cheeky but classy – he is anything I make him.

drag king

Me as my drag king alter ego, Dylan McDyke

I usually become Dylan when I’m in the comfort of my own home, or with close friends and family. I have yet to venture outside as a drag king but all my friends are super supportive and wanted me to go to UK Pride as Dylan. Funnily enough, Dylan was created when I was with my friends as a “makeover” at a sleepover, and he has stuck with me ever since.

Being a drag king does not mean I want to be a boy, in fact I am as happy as can be in myself – but Dylan provides an artistic release that many people crave to have. When I’m Dylan, I can do and say whatever I please. It gives me confidence, enjoyment and a way to release the stress of A-Levels.

My friends and family were not shocked at all when they found out about my drag kinging. However this may be down to the fact that my sense of fashion is pretty gender fluid anyway.

The first time I transformed into Dylan, I went downstairs to show my mum who said, “don’t you look handsome” (she’s very supportive) and one of my best friends Nathan, loves the thought of me being a drag king and has told me to make a career out of it. I’ve considered doing shows and events, but that would be in the future once I get better with my make-up and more comfortable in my persona.

In contemporary society, gender fluidity and androginity is becoming increasingly more popular – drag is just an extension of this and is helping to blur the lines that restricts people from developing their personality due to gender norms which are deeply ingrained within us.

I’m sure you’ve all seen Lady GaGa as her alter ego ‘Jo Calderone’, which she has absolutely slayed. This was a big moment for the LGBTQ+ and dragging community as they finally had an advocate and representative for their lifestyle.

Laday Gaga drag king

Lady Gaga attended the VMAs as her drag king alter ego (Pic by Philip Nelson)

This is becoming increasingly more important and needed within the 21st century as we strive to see a world where everyone is accepting of one another no matter their sexuality, gender, religion, ethnicity and appearance. Drag isn’t just an art for one person, it is an art for society – in a way it helps people be, and express themselves better.

So I say challenge yourself; go one day, one hour, one minute as another persona. Not only is it an enjoyable experience, but it is a way to get creative and find yourself in the meantime.

Finally, I would like to leave you with one piece of advice… be whoever you want to be. If people have anything to say about it, don’t listen. If they can’t accept you for you they don’t deserve to know you.

Dylan McDyke

 

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  1. ThatTransGay

    I fail to see what drag has to do with the LGBT+ community or pride. As a method of gender commentary sure, but as you said yourself performing drag has nothing to do with being trans (which is another point as trans guys don’t ‘want’ to be boys they are boys). And also how you dress has nothing to do with sexuality. In fact a lot of drag culture actually perpetuates gender stereotypes and a lot of drag performances are transphobic (for example, if dylan is designed to be a male persona, what relevance does ‘dyke’ have to him at all? Unless his ‘flirty’ nature, presumably with girls, in some way is supposed to make him a lesbian?) I just don’t understand how what is essentially the equivalent to cosplaying as dean winchester has a place at pride, a need for representation.

    • Caurtney

      I think you may have missed the point of my article, which was that drag helps people to understand that gender and sexuality are non-related and are both fluid. Drag does this by battling the stereotypes that are put on the different genders and sexualities, for example males are supposed to me “masculine”, unless you are a gay male in which case the stereotype is that you are “camp”, but with drag you can get straight cisgender males dressing feminine, this helps blur the lines between masculinity and femininity. The more representation drag has in the LGBT+ community, the more representation gender fluidity and sexuality fluidity will have as it will become more and more accepted to dress in whatever clothing you choose.
      I stick by my statement that “being a drag king does not mean I want to be a boy” – because it doesn’t. If a FTM person was to decide to become a drag queen this does not mean they want to be a girl – they are a male that is dressing up in clothes that are perceived to be feminine.
      Drag has nothing to do with transsexuality, it is just an artistic expression.
      Also the last name “McDyke” is actually a play on my own sexuality (I’m lesbian), and as previously stated, Dylan is a way I can put my own personalities out there, and my sexuality is a large and important part of my identity tonne so I decided to portray this into Dylan.
      I’m sorry for any confusion about my article.

      • ThatTransGay

        (Yo for the record it’s ‘being transgender’ not ‘transsexuality’ – the latter was developed for classifying childhood mental disorders, and because german had no different words for sex and gender fun facts) But yeah I know that drag will not be changed, it is a well-instilled and growing art form, but it will always rub me the wrong way. To look specifically to drag kings a lot of acts I have witnessed have been based off of a joke surrounding “Surprise! You thought I was a boy and were flirting with me but I actually have a vagina! How funny that you should find yourself being an accidental lesbian!” This has then lent itself to issues where I/my friends have been accused of being ‘straight girls fetishising/mocking/tricking gay guys’ by cis gay guys in LGBT+ bars after flirting with us and then discovering we’re trans, usually by voice (No longer! Thank you 6 months on T) or in one charming case coming over and sticking his hand down my mate’s pants (classy). Because the idea those performances help put forward is that if women go around dressed up as men to trick people into flirting with them, what’s the difference between that and transgender people? Naturally this has no meaning towards you as you have stated your persona is simply that – a persona, and a personal at-home one for boosting your own confidence – and not a partaking in transphobic performances sort. There’s also the simple matter of general drag that never made sense to me, if the purpose is to demolish gender stereotypes and norms, why should putting on a dress and makeup, having a ‘female name’, mean this persona is a woman? Is it simply beards and baseball caps that ‘maketh the man’? (After all, drag in itself is gendered – coming from the phrase ‘DRessed As a Girl’, speaking of which would drag kings not be rather drab kings) But hey, if I care that much I should just write my own opinion piece right?

        • Laura

          I agree with you, I really don’t understand claims that drag breaks down gender stereotypes, it does the exact opposite. Men dress up as hyperfeminine versions of women, some even having surgery to give their bodies that conventionally attractive look. And then they often adopt a certain style of behaviour – bitchy and gossipy, rehashing the harmful stereotype that women are always catty and petty. What is progressive about this? If there was a programme about men wearing dresses but still having traditionally masculine qualities or whatever, that would actually be doing something to show that gender roles shouldn’t be hard and fast rules. But all Ru Paul’s Drag Race shows is men acting out the stereotype of women; and I can’t help but wonder where the difference lies in making fun of the stereotype and making fun of the people. Let’s not forget that often the queens on the programme often adopt phrases and mannerisms that are usually associated with black women – how is it progressive for a privileged group (white dudes) to co-opt these in their pantomimes of womanhood? I don’t know much about the drag king scene so I can’t comment on that.

  2. Alhassan Fuseini

    It is good to be whoever you want to be, because no one can make you happy except yourself. No one knows better than yourself. You are the only person that knows what’s inside you and if you have that confidence to speak it up it will happen.

  3. zac

    You have a different way to thinking, and that’s ok