Monday, October 23, 2006

Drag Queen Femininity

I was at Carmen's 70th birthday party Saturday night. I don't know her very well, but I enjoyed paying homage to a Sydney icon much more spectacular and much warmer and friendlier than the Opera House.

It was a bit of a whore fest for me, with several Debbys and other local sex worker activists in attendance. Yah for the tiny bit of whore community in Sydney - and I look forward to playing a part in it's growth and development.

The room was full of gorgeous Maori, Cook Island and Australian transwomen and drag queens. There was also two big floor shows - drag extravaganza! The problem with so much drag experienced all in one night is the sense I had afterward of failed femininity. Ordinarily I feel quite comfortable with my femme status, but last night, I felt inadequate. My emotions, jewelery and hair just isn't big enough! I don't wear enough sequins!

Mostly, I like being a low maintenance femme - I'm not the slightest bit princessy - I'm easy going and easy to be around. I have too much in the way of middle class manners to throw big diva like tantrums. However, I do have a bit of admiration for what I call the drag queen version of femininity - more means more, Elizabeth Taylor in her prime/ Zsa Zsa
Gabor life style. Live big, demand more. I think sometimes (particularly in Sydney) shameless self-promoters get what they want, and the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

However, I have to accept that activism and drag queen femininity don't necessarily mix. While I can easily march in a protest in heels and a pencil skirt, activist movements aren't (or shouldn't be) the space for divas. I'm far more interested in building community and supporting progressive change for my communities than it all being about me.

It's only since spending time in the Sydney butch-femme community that my sense of being 'femme enough' was ever a concern. The policing and competition in small communities never fails to amaze me. It's played out in every community I've ever participated in, and it shocks and saddens me each and every time. However, I find myself buying into this stuff - not so much a policing of other's behaviour, but a scrutiny of my own. It's funny how that sense of being a teenager wanting to fit in never really leaves the psyche.....

I find it interesting that my models for femme aren't yet other femme dykes, but are still transwomen and drag queens. I find the acknowledgement of femme - and gender itself as performative (" We all came into this world naked, the rest of it is all drag." Ru Paul) and the bravery and grace demonstrated by the gender queer women in my life to still rock my world. The idea that flawlessly silky femininity isn't marred by large hands and feet, adams apples or voices of a lower register makes it more accessable - even to non-transwomen. I love the idea that femininity is so very precious and desirable that you will go to great lengths to acquire it. That is how I feel about it also.

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