Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

When protesting for my rights, please try not to be incredibly stupid and counterproductive

A CommentaryA Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

March 1st, 2011

Drag is fun. It is a cultural entertainment, a social commentary, a challenge to presumptions, and a cherished tradition within the gay community. It’s been around for a very long time, and likely is here to stay.

And, if crafted carefully, drag can be a unique tool to transmit a message addressing issues surrounding gender assumptions and social expectations (though this needs to be well thought out, lest it contradict or diminish the goals of transgender people).

But drag has nothing to do with marriage or our community’s quest for marriage equality. In fact, when it comes to marriage, the last thing we want is for those who are listening to our legitimate grievances to start thinking that gay people are just ‘men who like to parade around in women’s clothes’ or that we don’t take our own inequalities and indignities seriously.

Which is why it was really incredibly stupid and counterproductive for Queer Rising – an organization of queer activists and “drag queen activists” – to block the intersection of Manhattan’s 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue this morning with a banner protesting marriage inequality in fright wigs and faux fur. This protest was a lot less about marriage than it was about “look at me!”

And now our community has to deal with news stories like “Drag Queens’ Gay Marriage Rally Halts Midtown Traffic.”

Was that what the message supposed to be? Because that’s exactly what happened and I can hardly fault a newsource for being accurate.

Upper West Side drag queen Honey LaBronx, who wore a curled auburn wig and sparkly purple eye shadow, said she was nervous about the prospect of being arrested for the first time. LaBronx, whose real name is Ben Strothmann, said this was one concrete action she could take in support of the gay marriage cause.

“I’m hoping they can see how serious we are about this,” LaBronx said, before the group marched from Grand Central Terminal.

Serious? Really? You want morning commuters to take you serious in your purple eye-shadow and stiletto heels?

Instead, perhaps it is you who should be taking our community and our rights seriously.

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0

Eric
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

cause those drag queens at the Stonewall should have just sat down and taken the abuse

JR
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

We’re not getting rights by being invisible. And we shouldn’t be getting our rights by trying to “blend in” and become cookie cutter replicas of the rest of the damaged society we live in. I’ll never understand why some gays feel so much shame about their own community. Celebrate drag, queerness and teh gay. It’s ALL good. And all of us should have rights. As we are, not as they want us to be.

Timothy Kincaid
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Eric,

at Stonewall they didn’t dress in drag to go to a protest.

Regan DuCasse
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Eric, JR: If I may…
Have you ever seen the photographs and footage of the Civil Rights Movement? Did you note what the marchers were wearing? Did you note the photos and information regarding how gay marchers were to wear and how to comport themselves during their marches when Frank Kameny and Morris Kight and so on were leading the community?
What was Bayard Rustin wearing in all his photos with Dr. King?
How about the military protesters at the White House fence?

A strong, essential purpose of EFFECTIVE protest, is NOT validating STEREOTYPES.
If we as persons working towards the dignity of the LGBT community, there is an obligation to teach that stereotypes are not who anyone is.
Dressing in drag, is an affectation very different from say, being transgendered.
But the bigots don’t know about that distinction and there IS a distinction.
But it’s OUR job to SHOW them there is in ways where it truly matters.

Civil rights activists were told explicitly to dress well, to wear suits and ties for the men, to wear proper dresses for the young women.
They were told to dress more as if for church or business, NOT recreation or theatrics.

Our marches and protests should be carried out with some dead seriousness, since there ARE very tender young people in their graves because of anti gay sentiment and the stereotypes their peers have learned.

For the most part, a dress code when ALL eyes are on you, IS worth adhering to. It WORKS.
And as you should know, validating stereotypes DOESN’T.
One can stick up for oneself without the eccentric and tacky trappings.

Maybe you think the gay and trans community can afford it,even for the sake of individual expression. But I assure you…they can’t.

Jeff
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

I have no problem with drag queens dressing as they please and find gay men getting upset about a protester dressing as he pleases beyond ridiculous. This fight for our rights is for everyone, not just those of us who dress to your standards.

andrewdb
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Wearing sparkely purple eye shadow to a MORNING (not evening) event? She deserved to be arrested.

NoxiousNan
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

While I always find Regan eloquent and making excellent points, I don’t always agree.

I think this time maybe I half agree. Perhaps if the drag queens donned their most serious, business-like but still very much drag attire, that would help break down the stereotypes. That way they remain true to their nature and convey the seriousness of the protest.

tim
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

@JR

“Celebrate drag, queerness and teh gay.”

You may not like to hear it but living a plain boring life (or as you put it “blending in”) does more to advance our rights in a year then decades of putting on dresses and belting out showtunes has done.

What you and Kincaid repeatably miss is that you can be gay, out, and happy without the stereotypes. And its not self-loathing or shame. We don’t all like Madonna, we don’t all vote democratic, we don’t all like drag. And many – if not most – of us don’t consider drag a “cherished tradition”. Drag clubs are the clubs straight men and women go to because it “feels” safe. It hides the serious and very real problems gays face day in and day out from a legal perspective behind shiny sequences and Cher.

Eddie
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

I have enjoyed this blog for years, but to reading this entry made my mouth drop. I thought we as a community were past telling our own brothers and sisters how to act. I am not a drag queen, but telling drag queens that they should not be themselves when they protest is wrong wrong wrong.

I for one always thought that the gay community prided itself in its uniqueness and diversity, but this post and Regan are basically saying we must now have dress codes to speak up for our own rights.

Regan, go ahead and wear whatever you want to your protest, but don’t tell me how to live my life or how I choose to fight for it.

Ray Harwick
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

When you are representing your community and trying to help secure equal rights, you really need to dress like nice rights-deserving people should.

This is the thing that just get to me. Here in the Palm Springs area the newspaper and TV stations would cover the Pride Parade every year, find someone to interview to ask questions about the march for equality and present that face to the public.

Well, for EIGHT consecutive years it was some drag queen sitting there intelligently articulating the motivations behind the equality movement. And guess what? Nobody heard a single thing he said. They were too distracted by the over-the-top outrageousness of the Sister of Perpetual Indulgence outfit and Rocky Horror makeup to even know they guy was talking.

See, the newspaper and TV stations WANTED those drag queens to be the face of the gay rights movement. Headline: “This ***IS*** What “Gay” looks like.

You know something? There practically *nothing* you can say to these purveyors of street theater to convince them to have some consideration for their gay brothers and sisters who have MUCH to lose. They’ll just blow you off, call you names, and then go f*ck the whole community by throwing themselves in front of the camera.

What’s worse is that when the media uses these people to report on equal rights activity, the average gay person who is horrified by these stereotypes doesn’t have a leg to stand on when they think about writing to the newspaper or TV station to accuse them of misrepresenting the gay community. If you think you can tell these drag performers to STFU, you’re delusional. They just take that as motivation to do it again.

Iamposterity
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

My Question: I thought Drag was for entertainment and to mock straight women for our enjoyment. In the history of the LGBT community when has the sub-culture of Drag been at the forefront of “Hey we are normal people just like you with a desire to marriage”

Drag queens are personas not the actual person. My boyfriend would not protest for same sex marriage in his drag persona because that is not who I am marrying! So yes a more general dress code would help fight stereo-typing.

Now Pregnant drag queens fighting for abortion rights for women would be a better venue….Think about it!

Eric
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

I hate to spoil everyone’s opportunity to be caddy and nasty to one another, but the reality is, both are right. Both halves of our movement are necessary for us to succeed. I myself in my own family often vacillate between my more “normal” persona as well as a more outrageous version I dawn when I want to express myself more loudly. I don’t consider myself a drag queen, but I obviously dress quite differently for the club than for work. I have come to the conclusion that both are equally relevant facets of myself, and that both pieces to be the person I want to be. There is truth that outrageous attire is sometimes off putting, but I know of many “normal” homosexuals that use that very fact to hide and not take ownership of who they are. I have been a loyal follower of this blog, and I respect Tim for his faithful reporting, however, his disdain for outrageous yet at times necessary forms of expression is just simply not helpful. I’m not convinced that this particular incident was effective, but that doesn’t justify a jab at the non-heteronormative community as a whole. You want to do something useful Tim? Communicate with those that are out, and represent so called “normal” gay people, and encourage them to live 200% openly to every family member, co-worker and friend. I know of several gay teachers that can’t be bothered with the turmoil they would create at their school, and are terrified of losing their jobs, and frankly, they could use a dose of the guts it takes for a man to proudly wear makeup and nail polish and take ownership of who he is. I get enough booty calls from friends that think they can sneak a blow job from me while their girlfriend is away and it makes me sick that they think they can benefit from our community that we’ve helped humanize, so they can get their rocks off while making no sacrifice of their rosy little life. So while I can’t fully defend the actions of this particular event, I’d like to commend them for even taking action, and not just cuddling up to their partner in their opulent house and their “normal” yet painfully concealed lives. It takes both parts, so instead of bashing each other, lets recognize that both “normal” and non hetero-normative gays need to step up to the plate.

Eric
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

as a side note, I’m a different Eric than the first commenter

RJ
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

“cause those drag queens at the Stonewall should have just sat down and taken the abuse”

This

Oh, and yeah… all of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence should just sit around and have some drag parties in gay bars instead of participating in civil rights activities.

Timothy: The fact is that when push comes to shove, you haven’t really had one positive thing to say about Queer Rising or GetEqual when it comes to their actions (well… either you or other contributors on BTB).

This action is pretty similar to the November 2008 highway ramp blockade, yet you tore Queer Rising to shreds in this very dishonest blog post.

Answer one simple question:

If you were responsible for planning this or another similar action and a drag queen wished to attend in drag, would you have said “No. You’re not normal enough to represent us”?

Drag queens are drag queens. They’re a fun and significant component of the gay movement, whether you find them appropriate or not.

For the sake of intellectual honesty, a little more To Wong Fu and a little less Lemmings, please.

Mark F.
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

“Oh, and yeah… all of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence should just sit around and have some drag parties in gay bars instead of participating in civil rights activities.’

I agree. The average person finds the sisters to be a grotesque mocking of religion, having nothing to do with gay marriage. (BTW I’m an atheist, but I understand public relations.)

I’d also be against men appearing in leather drag at a civil rights march.

The more radical your message, the more conservative you need to dress.

Timothy Kincaid
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

RJ,

If I were in charge I would look at the purpose of the event and determine whether being in drag added to the message or detracted. Sometimes it adds, sometimes it detracts. I would hope that the individual would similarly be more interested in the goal than in their right to be in drag.

And I don’t believe, “drag queens are drag queens.” I know too many multifaceted people who can’t be diminished to just “a drag queen.”

We aren’t talking about transgender persons who are expressing their true internal gender. We are not talking about people who have only one gender presentation to the world and are consistent in their attire.

We are talking about people who identify as male but choose in some circumstances to take on female clothing and an entirely separate female identity. They choose when to be Fred and when to be Alicia Delicious.

I agree that drag is fun and at times appropriate. But the responsible individual puts our goals ahead of their fun.

Or, to put it another way, if your job is important enough that you don’t show up in drag in order to keep it, why aren’t your rights?

TonyJazz
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

So, I guess we all need to act ‘straight’ so that we have a chance at equal rights?

I’m proud that someone is demonstrating for my rights, instead of sitting in a chair and doing nothing….

Edwin
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

MAybe the first Eric needs to read about instead of commenting in the negative about Stonewall.

Eddie
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

To Mark F. I am a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence you apparently do no know what we do.

Our Abby reaches out to all in need, gay straight, bi, trans. Here in Atlanta, the Sisters have broken through walls that have never even been approached.

The straight community even sees us as an organization that gives without need for payback.

The Atlanta Sisters have participated in the NoH8 campaign, have raised money for breast cancer research, have raised money for local churches, raised money for local AIDS organizations, have raised money for local gay youth organizations. Not all of these events have been in bars.

Please do not pigeon hole an organization because you do not understand what it does.

The fact that there is so much heated discussion around this topic should tell people a lot

Sister Fiddle D Dee of the Atlanta Flaming Sugarbaker Sisters.

castaway
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

In moments like these, we don’t need to be spoon feeding the oppositon ammuniton to use against us. I agree with TK 100%. Stay on message and don’t distract from the issue on the front burner.

Priya Lynn
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Eric #2 said “I hate to spoil everyone’s opportunity to be caddy and nasty to one another…”.

That’s “catty”, not “caddy” Eric ;)

Eddie
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Hey RJ- I challenge you to call me and discuss what the Sister of Perpetual Indulgence do compared to your outreach. Maybe if you do outreach, the Sisters can help cover the gaps. My number is 404 310 2578. Looking forward to sharing outreach opportunities.
Sister Fiddle D. Dee

RJ
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Hi Timonthy,

Thank you for your kind and patient response. While part of me wants to agree with you, I am fundamentally conflicted and, because of that, I automatically err on the side of self-expression.

If you break the argument of gay vs. anti-gay down to the polarizing sides, uniformity is the manifest destiny of the anti-gay. Reducing them to their core stereotypes, we see a white, middle class, working man with a stay-at-home woman, married, suburbs, white-picket fence, a boy, a girl, a dog, and a cat. We see a suit and tie, and flower/pastel dresses. We see baseball and home-economics. We see toy soldiers and barbie dolls. We see right and wrong broken down into black and white, rigid categories. Insert the intro to “Weeds”.

On the other end of the spectrum, we see the epitome of self-expression, art, and diversity. We see right and wrong all merged together in a cloud of gray as it rightly should be.

I then see Frostie Flakes (the drag queen arrested today) and can only smile, since the perfect world in my mind idolizes self-expression – being the source of human, societal evolution, the very best of what humanity has to offer. I may see a drag queen walking down the street in Boston and I strike up conversation. It could be broad daylight and I always look at her and recognize that she is always deserving of respect (as are all people) and is never, ever inappropriate.

I would find it both unacceptable and being a huge disservice to our movement if we set self-expression aside in order to play the role of the quiet, polite, conforming, patient child in the corner. I refuse to dumb down love and beauty for the sake to win this debate. In my eyes, self-expression and diversity is the archetype of beauty in the world. We understand that. Our opposition doesn’t. Why would we sacrifice this obvious advantage for the sake of a piece of the pie now, rather than holding true to course and winning true acceptance for all of us – the uniform and the fringe included?

Last thing:

Big hello to Sister Fiddle D Dee. Thank you for your feedback :-D

-RJ

Timothy Kincaid
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

RJ,

Thank you for your candid response.

I refuse to dumb down love and beauty for the sake to win this debate.

While I can appreciate the feeling behind your position, this is where we differ.

Eddie
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

To RJ- Love you. Thanks for the call. Email can be a bitch sometimes. To all of everyone else. RJ was being catty. He loves the Sisters,
We love him so don’t go hating.
Sister Fiddle D. Dee

Eddie
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

dearest RJ- thank you for the the Boston update. Anytime you need some southern Sisters, let me know and we will be there. We all love Boston.

Fiddle

Ross
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

To each his own. The thing that makes the GLTBQ Community special is its diversity and uniqueness and our acceptance of individuals outside societal “norms”. As a community, if we start discriminating against our own sub-populations then we are no different than the people that want to strip us of our constitutional rights as American citizens.

I would postulate that drag is drag regardless of the appearance…female impersonation, leather, bear, twink, jock, lipstick lesbian, diesel dyke, cowboy, alternative, goth, etc…its just how people are comfortable expressing themselves. Are we only supposed to have Log Cabin Republicans represent us on the news or in public forums? Our country was founded as a Constitutional Republic & Representative Democracy where law protects the rights of minorities against the tyranny of majorities.

I also take issue with the statement regarding the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. People need to educate themselves before drawing inaccurate conclusions or making insulting statements. Judge lest ye be judged. The Sisters have spent over 30 yrs supporting the GLTBQ community across the globe. They embody the diversity and selfless dedication to service that is rarely seen in mainstream society. For example, they are the ONLY community organization in Dallas that routinely provides condoms and safe sex education during bar/club hours as the State of Texas has restricted the ability of establishments to have condoms available to patrons. They are a self-funding charitable organization and they do not rely on public funding therefore they are not constrained by state or federal regulations which are generally dictated by discriminatory social policies and religious dogma.

Matt
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

I agree with you, Mr. Kincaid, but here’s how I would have put it:

These folks belong to a group called Queer Rising, and a quick Google search of the group reveals that they are straight-up standard-issue queer-theory folks. Queer theory basically boils down to, “We reject ‘straight’ heteronormative-patriarchal cultural institutions as tools of oppression. We aren’t like you straights and don’t want to be like you.” This is the underlying attitude behind everything they do. And nothing could be better calculated to work against a movement for equal marriage rights. That’s why the protest is far more “look at me!” than it is about securing equality. The group is just desperate for attention, and they realize that bourgeois causes like gay marriage are, ironically, what’s in these days.

Phil
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

“[...]at Stonewall they didn’t dress in drag to go to a protest.”

Actually, on the second night of the Stonewall riots, that is, for all intents and purposes, exactly what they did.

RJ
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Matt,

While a quick Google search would lead you down that path regarding Queer Rising, the true answer is almost always so much more simple.

If you get to know individual members of Queer Rising (they’re always open to personal conversation) or any other similar grassroots organization, you’ll find that your reduction of us to supporters of “Queer Theory” is incorrect.

-RJ

cowboy
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Are we talking about a matter of degrees? In that: If I wore my cowboy hat to a gay protest demonstration would that be objectionable? I certainly would not change my every-day apparel: Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots. Call it cowboy drag but it is *my* persona in what I wear.

I refuse to be dictated as to what to wear by mostly country-club-going people…which certainly has dictated what casual business attire should be. Says who? The style mavens in NYC?

Who can dictate what someone should wear? The Black-tie affair at the Royal Wedding in April…maybe. My lawyer will suggest I wear a suit & tie during my defense at a trial…I can understand that…it’s part of the psychology of winning a trial.

But for a public demonstration…I think we need to be a little tolerant of what style of ‘drag‘ we choose.

Don
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

There are certainly times when the gay community as a whole should be represented in all our incarnations when the goal is to draw attention to criminal acts against our community by police, homophobic hate speech by elected officials, drug companies that price gouge those living with HIV/AIDS, etc. But civil rights demonstrations by a minority (which we are) in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of the average voter and elected representative requires a different tactic for success. While diversity is something to be celebrated, achieving equality, whether marriage rights, inheritance rights, adoption rights or any other equal rights requires a demonstration of our common ground, not our differences.

I am a gay man. I am also a working man, a home owner, a taxpayer, a voter, a volunteer, a brother, an uncle, a baby boomer and a member of the human race. If we as a gay minority expect to achieve the equal rights we know we deserve, we must do so by drawing attention to the basic humanity we share with “straight” society.

You might be a top-seeded tennis player, but if you want to play a game of baseball you need to show up in cleats, a uniform and with a glove and bat. Just because you’re a great athlete doesn’t mean the baseball team will let you play if you show up in tennis whites with a racquet. You don’t have to give up tennis to play baseball; just show up with the appropriate gear to play the game at hand.

Gawyn Reddragon
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Mr. Kincaid,

I think you are the one with the issues, not those who were arrested for protesting. Perhaps you should examine your own sexism issues and why you have them. It is easy for you to armchair your critique – is your ass out there engaging in civil disobedience and getting arrested? Who are you to decide whether or not drag queens are included or not included? With that kind of “inclusiveness” why don’t you just go on over and do the oppressors work for them?

RJ
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Gawyn,

There’s no reason to be rude. Tim has been an excellent source for years when it comes to following, reporting, and getting the information out there.

Like the drag queen arrested in NYC today, Timothy Kincaid spends a great deal of time and effort seeking facts, getting and presenting information, and occasionally provides his own personal opinion on matters.

To treat him like an anonymous armchair activist who puts in no real effort and simply comments on the work of others is unjust.

Stefan
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Some people say protests are ineffective. Whatever. It’s thanks to the protests regarding the collective bargaining BS that many other states have dropped similar proposals.

Mark F.
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Eddie,

Congrats on your charitable work.

The fact remains that the average Catholic housewife in Peoria sees you as mocking her religion.

Mark
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

“A strong, essential purpose of EFFECTIVE protest, is NOT validating STEREOTYPES.”

The validation of stereotypes happens in the mind of the bigot, (eg. people who advance the YOU’RE CONFIRMING STEREOTYPES argument) and not on my body.

“And nothing could be better calculated to work against a movement for equal marriage rights.”

How about I deliberately sabotage your struggle for equal rights with my mere existence until straight people are ready to let me get married no matter what I look like? You can thank me later for breaking your backwards cultural norms.

Mark H.
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Gawyn,

You know, I think I know some gay furries online, and if they don’t do the whole sex-in-animal-suits thing, I bet they know people who do. Why don’t we have them show up at the next protest, too? Nothing says “I am a fellow American with serious grievances, and I welcome your support in combating social injustice” like a guy in a crotchless rabbit costume.

Or maybe we could recognize that the purpose of a protest is to catalyze the support of society at large, and the best (and most subversive, if you want to look at it that way) method of doing so is to present the most sympathetic and relatable side of yourself to the public, rather than the side (if you have one) that marks you as The Other, and thus safe to view with contempt.

I mean, why bother to protest if you’re not focused on getting results?

Throbert McGee
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Iamposterity
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

My Question: I thought Drag was for entertainment and to mock straight women for our enjoyment.

I’m not sure if you intended to do this, but THANK YOU for so eloquently making the point that Drag is sometimes akin to blackface minstrel shows.

(Of course, that’s not ALL that Drag is about; secondarily, it’s about gay people making fun of Eisenhower-era gender stereotypes so that they can congratulate themselves on their own cutting-edge subversiveness. Seriously, if you’re a drag queen who’s still trying to milk laffs out the Harriet Nelson housefrau-in-pearls archetype, you’re not actually being clever.)

Throbert McGee
March 1st, 2011 | LINK

Reducing them to their core stereotypes, we see a white, middle class, working man with a stay-at-home woman, married, suburbs, white-picket fence, a boy, a girl, a dog, and a cat. We see a suit and tie, and flower/pastel dresses. We see baseball and home-economics. We see toy soldiers and barbie dolls

Sheesh, what did I just say about gay nitwits who still think they’re offering some kind of keen-eyed cultural critique by subverting the 1950s sixty years after the fact?

Eric
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Thank You Priya Lynn, I have duly noted my hasty typographical error. And if you read the sentence that I wrote, pointing out an otherwise irrelevant detail like that makes my commentary on the attitude in this forum especially germane.

Jesus
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

These protesters weren’t at a board room meeting, so I don’t see what the problem with having people in drag at this protest. They are for making noise and attracting attention, which is what they do. Honestly, it seemed like a bunch of people who are passionate enough about equality that they would take to the streets and risk arrest or getting taken out by an irate driver, however misguided they might be. We shouldn’t be discouraging this kind of zeal, it just needs to be focused into something productive, which is easy enough to do.

Mihangel apYrs
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I can only agree with Timothy about this exhibitionism, and we can stop having those tasteless parades and things where we frighten the straights.

We need to remember we live in a straight world and confiorm to gender and societal stereotypes so we don’t make waves.

Then maybe our masters and betters will give us some of the privileges they enjoy, but only if we behave ourselves and lead sober respectable lives.

Throbert McGee
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I don’t see how anyone can claim these people were truly committed to marriage equality, since they kept their clothes on the whole time. If they were serious about changing minds, they’d get naked, lie down on the street, and arrange their bodies into a peace symbol, or something.

Dilettantes!

JR
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

If “respectable” gays want to be seen protesting, then why aren’t they out there protesting? Drag Queens aren’t stereotypes, no more than a lesbian with short hair is. We are real parts of the community.

You want to be represented in protests? Then represent.

David
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

“When you are representing your community and trying to help secure equal rights, you really need to dress like nice rights-deserving people should.”

Why stop with how people dress?

If you are representing your community, etc – you really need to f*ck like nice, rights-deserving people should.

And you really need to think like nice, rights-deserving people should.

And fall in love only in the way nice, rights-deserving people should.

And earn a 6 figure (or more) salary in the kind the career that nice, rights-deserving people work in.

When you allow bigots to decide what qualifies as “the way nice, rights-deserving people” should behave, who draws the line?

The bigots do.

Throbert McGee
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

If “respectable” gays want to be seen protesting, then why aren’t they out there protesting?

Actually, I’d rather that we NOT HAVE THIS KIND OF STREET PROTEST AT ALL, because they are worse than f*cking useless.

Only two or three of the attendees at this event were in drag; the rest were men and women in more or less “gender normed” clothing that you could wear in a casual work setting. However, in drag or in drab, ALL OF THEM WERE RETARDS, because snarling up NYC traffic has absolutely no symbolic connection to the marriage issue.

Now, a really well-organized “flash mob” event where hundreds of people blocked traffic for three minutes on Valentine’s Day while line-dancing to “Wedding Bell Blues”? That might make sense. I doubt it would actually change anyone’s opinion about the marriage issue, but at least commuters would be mildly entertained while they were inconvenienced.

But — seriously — eight people with a sloppy spray-painted banner? Epic fail, and they don’t get half-credit for trying, because the entire thing was just poorly conceived and infantile.

David
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

And Timothy Kincaid,

A majority of the material on BTB is deeply offensive to the same people who are offended by drag queens, including, maybe even particularly, much of your own material.

To homophobes, the “Featured Reports” here are just as much a violation of the social order, as “purple eye-shadow and stiletto heels” is.

And the rampant anti-Christian hate speech that appears here, routinely, is far more counterproductive than any drag queen – drag queens just transgress gender roles, but the anti-religious hate speech common here directly attacks the persons and experiences of people of faith.

Update the tags for this article of yours to include the word “hypocrisy”.

Throbert McGee
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

they don’t get half-credit for trying

Let me underscore this point: Anyone who’s inclined to say, “Well, at least they got out of their chair and did SOMETHING,” please, for the love of all that is holy, stop saying that kind of sh*t.

Because sometimes, sitting in your chair and doing nothing is MORE COMMENDABLE than doing “something,” if that “something” happens to be stupid and half-assed. Do not coddle this kind of mediocrity by applauding every single idiot who happens to support your pet cause; reserve your applause for those activists who do it well, and do not give partial credit for “sincere conviction.”

Adam
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I don’t think Timothy’s making an ideological argument, but a practical one, and many people are confusing the two.

Far be it from me to put words in his mouth, but I expect that Timothy would be the first to defend the rights of drag queens to dress and express themselves as they wish. His complaint appears to be that in ostensibly attempting to assist the gay marriage cause, the methods of this protest actually undermine it.

He’s focussed on the real-world effects of the protest. Those effects are civil disorder, and handing to the media the opportunity to paint the marriage equality movement as failing to take the issue seriously. He thinks these outcomes actually undermine the campaign to secure marriage equality – he’s not concerned with the broader issue of universal social acceptance of the entire spectrum of queer expression. Well, I imagine he is, but as part of a much bigger picture that can’t be attained in one giant step: one of the small steps towards that vast goal is marriage equality, and winning that debate means getting on your side all manner of people who are going to be put off by this show in NYC.

David in Houston
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Aside from the drag queen aspect of this, how exactly does blocking traffic get the public on your side? I’m guessing pissing off drivers is not the best way to win them over on the issue of marriage equality. In fact, the opposite is most likely to happen. So, yeah, counterproductive sounds about right.

ChicagoR
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I’m still trying to figure out why we let the majority determine who we have to be. I was at a retreat with a man who kept feeling he had to tell us he wasn’t like ‘those’ gays. He was straight acting, masculine, and professional. Does my being none of those things mean I have less of a stake in the marriage battle? Does it mean he has more?

What I have noticed is that same person, this presumed paragon of gaydom, -won’t- protest. He won’t get involved. It would ruin his image. But apparantly by having my femmy, queer, kinky ass actually participating in the fight hurts more than his inaction.

Tim, we get it. Unless we all look like and make the same amount as John Aravosis, we have no stake in gay politics. Good luck with that.

Todd (Tif) Fernandez
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

To paraphrase: “We are what we are, and what we are needs no excuses!”

This is a fascinating conversation, with lots of thoughtful opinions on both sides. The bottom line is that activists get to do what they want, express themselves as they choose, and wear what they want.

This is freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly. All basic human rights.

Anyone who disagrees is free to do it their way, but no one is free to stop others from doing it however they see fit. Thinking otherwise is a function of the box that got us into the mess of heteronormativity that created the “other” and the oppression we now suffer.

Let’s stop judging like the oppressors and start acting for equality like liberators. If everyone here complaining about this action did their own, there’d be so many the collage would be beautiful and powerful.

Take to the STREETS for CIVIL RIGHTS EQUALITY. BRAVO QUEER RISING, DRAG, LESBIAN, GAY, BI, AND ALL!!!

Mary
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I am an educated, white, middle class, lesbian with a wife and a kid. If you met me, you would probably assume that I am straight. Slightly homophobic people seem to love my family because we are the poster children for good gays. Despite all that, I have to say that it is precisely this kind of politics of respectability that made me reluctant to marry. As queer people, are we so anxious to push into the mainstream that we are willing to abandon those who don’t fit, or aren’t interested, some gay bourgeoisie ideal? No matter how far we assimilate, we will always be a marginal group and we need to stand will all those people who feel the backlash when times get tough.

Al W.
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

We shouldn’t be telling the minority to conform just so that the majority can pretend to be accepted.

Matt
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

As queer people, are we so anxious to push into the mainstream that we are willing to abandon those who don’t fit, or aren’t interested, some gay bourgeoisie ideal?

If some gay people identify as queer, reject bourgeois norms, and believe cherished middle-class middle-American institutions should be smashed, while other gay people feel the opposite way, and like those norms and those institutions and want to join them, then yes, there’s going to be a parting of the ways. This is what’s been happening for years now. When gay moderates and conservatives first suggested seeking the right to marry in the 1980s, they were scorned and jeered at by self-proclaimed gay leaders and activists. “We’re making our own way, we’re rejecting dated and oppressive cultural norms!” the “activists” shouted.

What’s telling about Queer Rising’s “action” is the fact that they’re doing it in the name of marriage equality. The moderates and conservatives in the gay community have won. Now even people who want to dress up and block traffic in a performance that no one could plausibly argue is actually achieving anything measurable are doing it in the name of the hated, dreaded institution.

a mcewen
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I’m with timothy on this but for another reason. There seems to be a train of thought in our community that public spectacles alone do the job. It is a limited mentality which belies a lazy idea that all we have to do is raise a public protest and that in itself gets us where we need to be. We forget that the most damage done to our community are by people and groups not seeking the public eye. They do the behind the scenes work, the planning and strategizing. Until we adopt that mentality and take it upon ourselves to do the tedious work, all of our protests amount to nothing but public masturbation.

Sister Fawn D'Amen
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

So much of this discussion make me sad. I see the same hatred that our community get from the outside coming from some of us in the community. When you start saying that “this boy is too fem” or “that girl is to butch”, where do you draw the line…and who gets to be that person who draws the line? Because let me let you, that line keeps moving and there are wars over that line. The pressures of gender roles and expectations f*ck with everyone, not just the gay folks. So the movie “Staightlaced – How Genders Got Us All Tied Up” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN5rPAAhSxU

This is an amazing documentary that interviews high school kids about gender pressures. It interviews all kids regardless of orientation. The experience that the “queeny” straight guy goes through is horrific.

This movie is award winning and is now being shown in schools. I would like to here everyone’s thoughts after seeing that film. Its only an hour long.

Oh and by the way, I live in a VERY rural area that struggles with homophobia and our order of Sisters do work throughout the community. Last year we held a drag baseball event to raise money for a city beautification project. We got ALL the local politicians and DA and police chiefs to play in drag. We raised over $20,000 in one night. It did more for breaking down stereotypes than anyone has by assimilating and being invisible.

Donny D.
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

The problem is that there’s a huge group of people who aren’t total bigots, who are to some degree pro-gay but also to some degree anti-gay. (I’d say this describes the majority of straight people.) They aren’t automatically looking at us as perverted or contemptible, but aren’t totally on our side, either. They are the Boomers and older who’ve come a long way from their earlier homophobia, and the Gen X & Y types who express pro-LGBT sentiments some of the time, but sneer “that’s so gay” at other times.

I’m not sure serious traffic stoppages (such as on the Golden Gate Bridge) at rush hour are ever a good idea, but drag is fine for many types of protests. However, the whole marriage things is touchy in that the welfare of children is a big part of it in the eyes of many straight people, especially after the anti-gay crowd pushes the “gay marriage harms children” meme, which is something that many straight people respond to who aren’t total homophobes. I’m leery of the idea that at all protests and political events we should be as conventional and middle-American as possible, since that too often masks intolerance toward others in the community. But I don’t see Timothy Kincaid expressing either sentiment.

A big part of the marriage debate, in law courts and the court of public opinion, is what kind of family gay couples could provide for children. The more freakish and outre forms of drag suggest a home life a lot more like a gender-bending clown show in a circus than anything that most straight people could recognize as a sane and healthy environment for kids.

Priya Lynn
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Eric said “Thank You Priya Lynn, I have duly noted my hasty typographical error. And if you read the sentence that I wrote, pointing out an otherwise irrelevant detail like that makes my commentary on the attitude in this forum especially germane.”.

Eric, pointing out a mistake you made is not an insult. I’m sorry you took offense at something that wasn’t offensive.

—————-

I was on the fence about this protest at first but after reading the comments I’ve been convinced. Throbert and David in Houston are right, the issue is not the protestors dressing in drag, it is that blocking traffic to protest is more likely to encourage people to take a stand against marriage equality to get revenge for the inconvenience.

I’m loathe to tell anyone they can’t do something (dress the way they want) when its utterly harmless. Now before you go on about how it was harmful because straight people don’t like it, it is the straight people, not the drag queens, who are doing the harm when they choose to oppose marriage equality because of the way the drag queens were dressed.

Timothy, your beef should be with the people who would oppress others for their appearance, not with the drag queens.

Kevin F
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

So, should those of us who can’t pass as straight just stay home?

Regan DuCasse
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

When your outfit is screaming louder than anything you have to say, no one will hear you. They’ll only be able to focus on the outfit.

Drag queens, are theatricality, caricature, bigger than life. That is the nature of being one. Sight is before sound, and the messaging IS… LOOK. AT. ME!

Not, hear what I have to say…and what my needs are.
People know drag queens exist, and are a part of the diversity of the gay community. There is a time and a place to show out all you want AS a drag queen. There can also be a time when it’s not at the expense of the MESSAGE involved.

However, a political protest with regard to the seriousness of equality should be treated with what THAT deserves. No one is saying that drag queens don’t have a place in the lexicon.
But is the point of showing up at a protest part of being an ACT, or someone who has needs bigger than that?

Hard core bigots won’t be swayed no matter what you do. But moderates ARE turned off by the theatrical excess of drag queens. This isn’t ONLY on their time, but the whole of the gay and trans community.
It’s simply the truth, and sometimes there are members of the community that should understand that and act appropriately too.

The thing about being a suspect minority is that a bigoted society doesn’t take you seriously beyond entertaining them, or serving them quietly.
To come roaring in, PERFORMING, into a political protest, isn’t a STATEMENT of needs BEYOND that, but a PERFORMANCE all over again AT the people who think you’re only that to begin with.

I’ve known some brilliant tap dancers in my life. I’m a tap dancer myself, but I wouldn’t satisfy the stereotype of bigots that blacks make good tap dancers. The game would be up then. I couldn’t be taken seriously if I show up to tap dance and not have a discussion or demonstration of what other things I require and have to talk about.

I’m MUCH more than a tap dancer. Just as drag queens are MUCH more than that.
But if the drag queen identity is what gets you hurt, and others of your community hurt by that identity,it’s incumbent on drag queens to show they are MORE than that and not there to PERFORM, but there for another level of attention.

ChicagoR
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

But if the drag queen identity is what gets you hurt, and others of your community hurt by that identity,it’s incumbent on drag queens to show they are MORE than that and not there to PERFORM, but there for another level of attention.

So who’s doing the hurting? The queen for being themself, or the people who have already stomped on our rights?

Secondly, And this comes up again and again: What’s the model? How should a ‘Good Gay’ look and behave to be acceptable? If you’re going play the ‘these people are unacceptable’ game, Give use the ‘Good Gay’ sheet, so we know what your personal standard is. Because we are obviously so MUCH MORE than what we are, so long as we fit a mold.

Show me that mold, please.

Matt
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Many people posting comments seem to be suggesting that stopping traffic while presenting oneself as a drag queen is the same thing as being an effeminate kid getting picked on in high school. Talk about disempowering to drag queens! I thought being a drag queen was making a deliberate and active statement about gender norms and our culture. I didn’t realize they were just ‘born that way.’

I think most people — gay and straight — understand the difference between being, say, effeminate, and going by “Frostie Flakes” (the (drag) name of one of the protestors) while stopping traffic. There are cultural norms whether you like them or not — if you’re going to break them, at least own it! Don’t wear all black to somebody’s wedding and then when people don’t like it, say “You’re just trying to oppress me and demand that I be like everyone else!”

Reed Boyer
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy K -

Provocative commentary, which brings up the question of “our community.”

My standard response/reaction to pronouncements on behalf of “the gay community,” “the LGBTQ community,” and/or “our community” is: “There is NO ‘gay community,’ no mythical lock-step hive-mind, no agenda, no secret hand-shake, no club card, and very little cohesion. If anything, ‘the gay community’ (‘our community’) is a loose coalition of splinter groups that come together with awesome force and great cohesion when threatened from without.”

Certainly, the diversity of opinons and responses to your written commentary would seem to illustrate this notion.

Thank you for your interesting and provocative opinion piece.

Priya Lynn
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Regan said “But if the drag queen identity is what gets you hurt, and others of your community hurt by that identity,it’s incumbent on drag queens to show they are MORE than that and not there to PERFORM, but there for another level of attention.”

ChicagoR replied “So who’s doing the hurting? The queen for being themself, or the people who have already stomped on our rights?”.

That’s what it comes down to for me. The drag queens are hurting no one, its the people who hate drag queens who are doing the hurting.

Muscat
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

“When you are representing your community and trying to help secure equal rights, you really need to dress like nice rights-deserving people should.”

I thought this statement was being made tongue-in-cheek but reading the rest of the post there was no apparent irony. I think this statement really sums up the two schools of thought about tactics in the GLBT rights movement.

One school of thought, represented by this statement, argues for presenting an appearance as close to mainstream as possible. The idea being that if GLBTs consistently appear to be “just like everyone else” they will eventually be granted rights “just like everyone else.”

The other school of thought argues for presenting an appearance that reflects the full diversity of the community. The idea being that if GLBTs are consistently visible in their full diversity that this diversity will eventually become unremarkable and people will not make decisions about support of rights based on it.

The truth is that both approaches have had some success and neither approach is perfect (that’s why there’s more than one approach) – both have flaws, many of which have been pointed out in the comments in this thread. For example, the former approach raises such questions as: What should people do when they can’t pass as “just like everyone else”? In what contexts is it necessary to present as “just like everyone else”? Is this approach’s efficacy unequal in that it achieves normalization of some at the expense of others? The latter approach raises such questions as: What should people do when visibility is interpreted as exceptional and/or abnormal? In what contexts is it necessary to have consistent visibility of diversity? Is this approach’s efficacy unequal in that it requires a “critical mass”?

I don’t think there’s going to be agreement on those issues any time soon. But I would argue that the true problem is when people confuse tactics with strategy. The community basically agrees that the strategy (objective, purpose) is to move towards equal rights and social tolerance and acceptance for GLBTs. We just disagree on the process or actions that will get us there. This becomes an issue when people’s tactics are used to question their commitment to the strategy. I think that’s inappropriate, self-destructive, and distracting to the movement as a whole (witness the comments thread on this story).

I think this article steps over that line (it would certainly be hard to argue it doesn’t at least toe the line), and that’s why it has evoked such reaction. For example, I think it’s appropriate to argue that this particular protest was counterproductive. I don’t think it’s appropriate to argue that the people who undertook the protest were only out for personal attention or un-serious unless you have actual evidence such is the case beyond your disagreement with their tactics. I also personally find the word “stupid” to have demeaning connotations that I don’t think are appropriate in discussion of disagreements about tactics, but perhaps that’s just my cultural habitus talking.

BTW:
But drag has nothing to do with marriage or our community’s quest for marriage equality.
Well, maybe not your marriage. More to the point, I think this statement and follow-ups in comments reveal a basic misunderstanding that while we might create neat boxes of “drag queens” and “transgender” many people’s realities don’t fit so neatly.

Wolf
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

The fact that “mainstream” gays try to say that leather and drag has no place in the protest is ridiculous WHO DO YOU THINK STARTED the fight for equality… was it the ones who were trying to blend in? Was it the ones who went to their corporate jobs, political jobs and did nothing to say I need equality. No it was drag queens and leather men. The drag queens at stone wall along with homeless and leather men. It was leathermen who formed clubs and organizations. It was leather men who sat down in full leather at restaurants who fired all their gay employees. IE crackerbarrel. How do I know this because I was a part of the group that did that in North Carolina. Were their conformists there…. ummm NO!

sistermoralee@yahoo.
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

oh my darlings….This was the revolution of the 80s. Homosexuals were convinced that they had to “dress appropriately” to gain acceptance from the straight community. What those drag queens are saying by showing up in “night time” purple eyeshadow and their crazy wigs is that acceptance isn’t predicated on whether or not you agree with those demanding equality. The majority of the country didn’t want to allow equality between the races not so long ago. But it was found to be an inalienable right, regardless of gender or race. You may not want to personally get married, but what are you doing for you community to advance the rights for those of us that do. What would it take for you to don purple eyeshadow and a wig to bring attention to an issue you felt passionate about. What would it take to get your asses off of the bar stool or out of the bathhouses and into the streets?

Jorge
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

No surprise that this post generated a torrent of hateful comments. Timothy, there is a contingent w/in the gay movement that is fundamentally selfish and fanatically devoted to the notion that any limit on their conduct must be resisted. These folks like to dress up whenever and where ever they please and for whatever reason. They like the attention. They like “transgressing” social norms. And the older folks enjoy the nostalgia. And it is their own enjoyment that is paramount.

They really don’t care a whit about the consequences of their actions. We have known for decades that the garrulous and hyper-sexualized displays at gay pride marches produce a negative response in the very people we are trying to educate. The result is that these marches have been rendered ineffective if not harmful as an educational tool.

To take but one example: When Pres. Clinton’s planned to allow gays to serve openly in the military, anti-gay forces sent each of the Joint Chiefs an anti-gay video which consisted almost entirely of footage of gay pride events. As the Chiefs tried to square the footage they were viewing with their understanding of military life, their response was visceral. The Pentagon opposed the plan in a unified voice.

It took 17 years to undo that damage. Gay pride drag didn’t cause that damage, but it certainly helped bring it about. Something is wrong when our adversaries view gay pride footage as ammunition for their side.

But none of this matters. The same self-absorbed people continue demand their “right” to play dress up and to be blissfully free of any responsibilty of the consequences – how it might impact gay youth or gay adults in vulnerable situations or gay people who are attempting to educate family members about what it means to be gay. This won’t end until these people are called out for the insensitive, selfish boobs that they are.

Regan DuCasse
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

ChicagoR, don’t twist the message! I never said a drag queen can never be themselves.

But you went right past what us suspect minorities are expected to do, and what’s EFFECTIVE in teaching that we’re MORE than that.
In the context of protest, of marches and the specificity of WHY we expose ourselves in such actions, has a different requirement.

The obligations are different in certain SETTINGS, and the message won’t get across if what you are wearing prohibits that message.
And don’t treat this as if what drag queens wear DOESN’T prohibit the message.

I gave you an example of what blacks have had to do with regard to a certain amount of restraint in certain political settings.

It’s the burden of being a suspect class. Sometimes, SOMETIMES we just don’t have the luxury of doing things this way.
You think drag queens are the ONLY ones with a penchant for the colorful and theatrical and expressive?
They are taking risks with the message they aren’t exactly entitled to take for others.
Part of a good political strategy is to also NOT be PREDICTABLE.

Priya Lynn
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Jorge said “It took 17 years to undo that damage. Gay pride drag didn’t cause that damage, but it certainly helped bring it about.”.

You’re wrong Jorge. Gay men dressing in drag didn’t cause that damage, the people who find such a harmless act offensive are the one’s that caused that damage.

Priya Lynn
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I want to clarify my last comment. If heterosexuals vote against marriage equality or repealing Don’t ask don’t tell because drag queens are asking for it then the harme is entirely on the heterosexuals, the drag queens have no responsibility whatsoever.

Regan DuCasse
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

ChiR and Priya Lynn:

“Drag queens are hurting no one…”

Well of course not in the PHYSICAL or political sense in that they aren’t wielding any power over who assaults them.

Not in THAT literal sense. But in a different way yes, SOMETIMES drag queens DO hurt their own and how seriously they will be taken in the very serious realm of socio/political equality.

I agree that no one should HAVE to defend their aesthetic and what they like to dress in, but the sad truth is, gay folks DO. Drag queens DO.

So, what’s more EFFECTIVE in making that happen? What already HAS been used to effect negatively or positively to advance the LGBT?

I’m asking you. What has WORKED best? And what yet has to be overcome?

Just as young blacks aren’t helping themselves with the violent, misogynist messaging of gangsta rap, and wearing their pants around their asses. They aren’t helping the stereotype that young black males are dangerous thugs to be isolated from the mainstream.

So, you can tell me. I accept drag queens more as hurting no one too.
But who does that REALLY matter to? Me and you, or the people in the socio/political and economic leadership positions that affect our lives?

Regan DuCasse
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Priya, I’m reading over your comments again.

I’m not disagreeing with you that the majority anti gay out there are doing harm, regardless that dressing a certain way IS harmless.
I agree that dressing in drag DOESN’T do harm.
We’ve seen how people reacted when mothers of young boys who wanted to wear princess dresses or a be a girl character for Halloween, allowed their little ones to dress as they wanted to.

Little black boys are non threatening until they are 16.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I agree that being defined by how one dresses shouldn’t BE fodder for injustice and abuse.

But we aren’t there yet my dear. I’m not saying that no one will respect or know about what drag queens are willing to do UNLESS they CAN dress as drag queens whenever, I think what I’m trying to articulate is there are more clever and effective ways than THIS particular situation during a street protest.

I’ve never said there isn’t ANY room for drag queens on this issue, but to a degree…what we’re fighting for, deserves certain reverence, respect and dignity and some forms of dress or some people’s TASTES, don’t serve up that respect for what’s at stake.
Hope I’m not being too redundant in what I’m trying to convey here.

Priya Lynn
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I don’t agree with that analogy Regan. Violent and misogynist rap music is a message of harm whereas dressing outlandishly is not. You may be right that drag queens protesting isn’t effective, but my point is that absent someone’s efforts other than the drag queens, a drag protest itself is 100% harmless. The problem is not the drag queens, but the people who choose to react negatively to them.

To go back to what someone else said what was really counterproductive about this protest was the act of stopping traffic and angering people who have places to go in a hurry. Yet somehow Timothy didn’t see that as significant enough to even mention and he focused entirely on the way the protesters were dressed, a trivial (in my opinion) consideration in comparison to the disruption of traffic.

Having read the accompanying article Timothy linked to it seems the commuters were patient with the disruption and that makes me question the automatic assumption of many here that there would be and was a negative backlash to the drag protest. From the description of the author I see no evidence of that. As I’m sure Timothy would say in another scenario, absent a scientific poll we can’t make any judgement about how anyone reacted to this protest.

Candace
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

“The fact remains that the average Catholic housewife in Peoria sees you as mocking her religion.”

I think the average catholic housewife in Peoria sees our very EXISTENCE as mocking her religion. If we’re waiting on their approval of how we dress or act or protest, better bring in the rainbow Snickers bars.

Love ya, Sisters!

Priya Lynn
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Regan, on your second comment to me:

You may be right that this protest didn’t help matters, I’m not going to dispute that. But I just want to emphasize that if it resulted in some witnesses choosing to fight against marriage equality the fault is entirely with the people making that choice.

I can appreciate that in the short run the LGBT community might be further ahead to downplay our more outlandish members but I’m loathe to tell harmless people what to do for the sake of political expediency. If plain jane gays and lesbians want to show that drag queens aren’t typical of our community I’d suggest the way to do so is not to tell drag queens to stay away, but to be visible themselves in fighting for equality

Pintuck
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Of course drag queens harm gay acceptance. Doesn’t everyone know by now that gay acceptance is the LAST thing that gay culture wants? Why do we pretend otherwise?

Gay culture and gay acceptance are mutually exclusive. Don’t believe me? Read what the gay culture practitioners in this thread wrote, and take it seriously instead of dismissing it as a “stereotype”. JR said it best: “And we shouldn’t be getting our rights by trying to “blend in” and become cookie cutter replicas of the rest of the damaged society we live in.” Do you honestly think he wants or cares about gay acceptance?

Priya Lynn
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Pintuck, if gays have to pretend to be something they aren’t in order to be accepted then they aren’t really being accepted.

carol
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Im a parent to a young gender non-conforming child. GNC boys are yes, probably gay. Thats why I am involved with gay rights and read your blog – because at home I watch endless “drag shows”. So it saddens me to have you make fun of the very thing that made me a strong LGBT supporter.

teneo
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

This author would have fit right in at stonewall…as one of the cops. As a bisexual transgender person I won’t change who I am just to make you heteronormative acting queers feel all cozy and I don’t expect drag queens to hide their wigs in the closet either. As to the Sisters, they do a lot more than bar ministry. Sisters save lives. You go grrrrls!

Philip
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Historical perspective: I came out 40 years ago, and this argument was already raging then: the assimilationist “good” gays vs. the non-conforming “embarrassing” gays. Probably will continue 40 years after I’m gone.

Excluding anybody who sincerely wishes to serve because they don’t conform is serving our oppressors. The Right will never be happy with us, no matter how much we ape their lifestyle. Fukkim. We’re right.

Oh, and before you complain about the glitter in someone’s eye, check your butt for that pesky 2×4 – it’s up there again, girlfriend.

Jorge
March 2nd, 2011 | LINK

The posts of Priya and Philip nicely illustrate the juvenile and selfish nature of the “queer” contingent of the gay movement. They couldn’t care less how their conduct affects others. If it could be shown to a scientific certainty that outlandish drag displays and debased public conduct contributed to the pain and distress of the 5 gay kids who killed themselves last Sept., or that such displays exacerbated the bullying of those kids, it would not dissuade folks like Priya and Philip for a solitary second from donning their Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence outfits and dildo necklaces, and prancing before whatever TV camera was available.

They just don’t care. They are not only radically selfish and immature, but they are heartless and insensitive to others. And to preserve their sense of themselves as good people, they write a fantasy tale about how their self-absorption is really a mark of courage and integrity.

And they have a well-rehearsed mantra that they recite to block out any notion that they should conduct themselves as dignified responsible adults. Anyone who suggests that there should be some self-imposed restraint on conduct, some standards that the gay community can impose on itself, is an agent of the “oppressor” who just wants to turn us all into cookie-cutter zombies, impose 1950s-style conformity, and squash all individuality in an futile effort to placate “the Right”.

It is like they have an audio track going on inside their corrupted minds, and are oblivious not only to their own fallacious thinking but to what other people are communicating to them.

As they are without any arguments, and spend their time slaying strawmen and chanting slogans and insults, I think we shouldn’t waste time on them. What we should do is precisely what any community does to impose standards on itself. Bring social, political, moral, and financial pressure to bear on the people who behave thoughtlessly. When the next outlandish or deliberately offensive display at a gay pride parade is greeted with a chorus of boos, you will see immediate results. When a fundamentally selfish person realizes that certain behavior no longer advances his self-interest, he will quickly move on to something else.

greenluv1322
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

As a black person I would interject that the suit and tie look of the civil right’s movement was the wrong way to go about achieving equality. That monolithic look is one of the main problems that even though blacks have gained equality in the legal sense, the idea that a black person has to wear this and that to be acceptable is ridiculous.

Shame on anyone of you who is justifying the idea that stopping rush hour traffic is so egregious that obviously those affected would definitely be against gay equality. If some little hiccup of not getting home as fast does that, you are a shallow person anyway and most likely not an ally anyway.

Priya Lynn
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Jorge said “The posts of Priya and Philip nicely illustrate the juvenile and selfish nature of the “queer” contingent of the gay movement. They couldn’t care less how their conduct affects others. If it could be shown to a scientific certainty that outlandish drag displays and debased public conduct contributed to the pain and distress of the 5 gay kids who killed themselves last Sept., or that such displays exacerbated the bullying of those kids, it would not dissuade folks like Priya and Philip for a solitary second from donning their Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence outfits and dildo necklaces, and prancing before whatever TV camera was available.”.

Jorge, I don’t dress in drag, wear dildo necklaces or prance before TV cameras. How hypocritcal of you to make up stories about me and then call me radically selfish and immature.

Once again, you’ve missing the point. What the drag protestors were wearing affects no one whatsoever, its the possible actions of the bigots who hate drag that affects people like you. Drag has absolutely no responsibility for any negative effects, that responsibility is solely born by haters who choose to oppress gays for that reason.

The idea that drag contributed to the suicides of gay teenagers is so preposterous you should feel the fool for even suggesting it. By all means collect your scientific certainty that it did, show it to me and then we’ll talk.

By your logic black people should have lightened their skin and straightened their hair so that they could foster acceptance by the white majority and they’d be evil people responsible for the oppression of blacks if they didn’t do so.

You’ve got no right to complain about heterosexuals who want you to disappear when you are hoping for the same thing from drag queens.

Regan DuCasse
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Hi greeluv1322,
I don’t know how old you are, or what you learned from the previous generation of our families that lived under Jim Crow, but how to dress and so on as a civil rights activist was part of a strategy that was set up to explode stereotypes that blacks were slobs, uncouth and dirty.

I’m about as NON CONFORMIST a sister as can be. If you saw me, you’d know that’s the truth.
There are means of taking one’s expressions where they can get attention, but not cross the line into cartoon.
I get attention ALL the time, and USE it to an optimal effect as possible.
For myself, but also for each community I represent.
I’m on stage too.
I’ve been confronted with people who EXPECT me to be a certain way at face value, and get a shock to find out the opposite is true.
Shock value CAN come from doing exactly the opposite of what people think they know about you already.
Shock and awe and then…respect.

I’m all for being oneself, being honest…but the opposition USES too. And THEIR affect is enacting all kinds of laws that are STILL screwing around with gay lives way too much.

As I said, it’s an unfortunate aspect of being the SUSPECT class of folks. We HAVE to be less predictable, more creative and foxier than our opposition who only work from a narrow list of definitions.
Defiance, effective defiance is what we want. And it’s important we know exactly what that is and work more in concert to get where we need to be.

justsearching
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

“The idea that drag contributed to the suicides of gay teenagers is so preposterous you should feel the fool for even suggesting it. By all means collect your scientific certainty that it did, show it to me and then we’ll talk.”

It would be impossible to prove any connection, but I think if many activists for gay marriage showed up to protests in drag, then we’d end up having a longer wait for marriage equality, and the feeling of being a second-class citizen (which the denial of the right to marry helps produce) may contribute to increased suicidal tendencies. Is this a bit of stretch? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t call it preposterous.

“By your logic black people should have lightened their skin and straightened their hair so that they could foster acceptance by the white majority and they’d be evil people responsible for the oppression of blacks if they didn’t do so.”

I don’t understand how you see a parallel between LGBT NOT wearing drag and black people whitening their skin. The correct parallel, as many others have noted, is between LGBT not wearing drags and blacks monitoring some external factors, such as dress, during protests.

Priya Lynn
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

“It would be impossible to prove any connection, but I think if many activists for gay marriage showed up to protests in drag, then we’d end up having a longer wait for marriage equality, and the feeling of being a second-class citizen (which the denial of the right to marry helps produce) may contribute to increased suicidal tendencies. Is this a bit of stretch? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t call it preposterous.”.

I don’t think your scenario is preposterous, but Jorge’s is and the two are different. What Jorge describes is drag itself being responsible for suicides, what you describe is the majority choosing to vote against equality because they don’t like drag. Once again, in your scenario it would be the majority causing the suicides, not drag itself.

“I don’t understand how you see a parallel between LGBT NOT wearing drag and black people whitening their skin. The correct parallel, as many others have noted, is between LGBT not wearing drags and blacks monitoring some external factors, such as dress, during protests.”.

The parallel is in both situations the oppressed minority would be changing to accomodate the bigotries of the wider society. If you and Jorge want to make the case that that’s a good idea then I’m open for debate, but if you want to say drag is at fault for any oppression the wider society chooses to impose on the LGBT community I don’t buy it in the slightest.

Priya Lynn
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Justsearching, in the scenario you described saying drag is the cause of the greater society’s oppression of LGBTs is like saying people’s black skin colour was responsible for slavery and oppression of blacks. I’m not saying skin colour is like apparel, I’m saying when the majority oppresses a minority because of the way they are it is the majority that is at fault, not the way the minority is that is at fault.

Timothy Kincaid
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

I’m saying when the majority oppresses a minority because of the way they are …

I would agree if we were talking about an innate characteristic like race or orientation or gender. I would even agree if we were talking about a personality trait like effeminacy or exuberance.

But purple glittery eye-shadow is neither an innate characteristic nor a personality trait.

Priya Lynn
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy it does not matter if the characteristic is innate or a choice, what matters is if the characteristic is harmless and morally neutral and that is true of both skin colour and drag.

Its just like when anti-gay religionists argue that gayness is a choice therefore gays don’t deserve equal rights – it doesn’t matter whether or not its a choice, gays deserve equal rights regardless because even if its a choice its a harmless one.

Priya Lynn
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Or another example religion is neither an innate characteristic nor a personality trait, that doesn’t make it right to oppress people because of their religion.

Timothy Kincaid
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Priya,

Would you argue that when a majority finds a street preacher to be objectionable, they are “oppressing a minority because of the way they are”? Do you think that the Phelpses should be exempt from criticism because that is “who they are”?

I think that the Phelpses are counterproductive to their cause because of their bizarre appearance and presence. In this particular instance of activism, I think the drag queens too were counterproductive to our cause.

In the Phelpses case, I’m glad that their methods hurt their agenda. In the case of the NY Marriage protest, I’m not happy that the message was muddled and turned into “I can be who I want to be” instead of an appeal for a change in the law.

Priya Lynn
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy asked “Would you argue that when a majority finds a street preacher to be objectionable, they are “oppressing a minority because of the way they are”?”.

Perhaps, but sometimes such oppression is justified, if for example “the way they are” is harming others. That’s not the case with drag.

You and Jorge blame the drag queens for the alleged negative consequences of their protest. That’s like saying black peoples skin colour was to blame for their enslavement, or in Islamic countries where Christians are denied equal rights that their christianity is to blame for their unequal treatment.

Once again, if you want to make the case that minorities in this case would be better off to accept and indulge the bigotries of the wider society to gain more equal rights I’m open to that argument, but if you want to say the harmless characteristics of a minority are to blame for unequal treatment I don’t buy that in the slightest.

At one time people made the arguemnent that if gays would just act like everyone else no one would discriminate against them. That’s the same argument that you, Jorge, and others are making regarding drag queens. In both cases the people in question don’t have an obligation to change their harmless characteristics to be accepted although it may well be that failing to do so will delay equal treatment. With continued visibility drag queens will become unremarkable just as straight acting gays have become. I agree that may delay equality, but for me I’m not sure I want to sacrifice morality on one hand in order to get bigots to do the right thing on the other.

Timothy Kincaid
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

I guess we are focused on different issues and have different goals in mind.

I am concerned about changing NY’s marriage law. I see activism which presents itself as seeking this goal through the prism of whether it is helpful or harmful.

You are concerned about who should be blamed for the negative consequences of protesting in drag and whether wearing drag does harm. Delaying equal treatment is acceptable to you so long as Frosty Flakes gets visibility.

Clearly we have different priorities. And that really does go to the heart of this protest, doesn’t it?

It seems to me that Queer Rising has a different goal in mind than the folks who are trying to get marriage equality in New York State. I suspect that they likely share your belief that marriage equality is secondary to continued drag queen visibility. Sure marriage is good, but drag visibility comes first.

You and Queer Rising are entitled to those priorities.

But Queer Rising is not entitled to hijack the marriage equality movement to advance their goals at the cost of those who are seeking marriage rights. That does cause harm to those who are fighting for their rights and their family and is unfair.

You or Queer Rising can argue, if you wish, that drag visibility is more important (or more moral or more timely) than the marriage equality effort. While I don’t share that opinion, you can espouse and defend it.

But what Queer Rising cannot do – and claim that their cause is moral – is undermine or subvert the work of marriage advocates for their own agenda by pretending that marriage is their goal when it really is drag visibility.

Priya Lynn
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “Delaying equal treatment is acceptable to you so long as Frosty Flakes gets visibility.
It seems to me that Queer Rising has a different goal in mind than the folks who are trying to get marriage equality in New York State. I suspect that they likely share your belief that marriage equality is secondary to continued drag queen visibility. Sure marriage is good, but drag visibility comes first.

Now you’re putting words in my mouth and I don’t appreciate that. I never said drag visibility was more important than marriage equality. What I specifically said was I’m unsure if people’s right to harmless characteristics should be sacrificed to speed up the achievement of marriage equality. I invited you, Jorge, and everyone to make that case but apparently you have no interest in doing so because its more important to you to blame drag queens for what you think might have happened rather than the bigots who are the ones who might vote against your equal rights.

Timothy said “But what Queer Rising cannot do – and claim that their cause is moral – is undermine or subvert the work of marriage advocates for their own agenda by pretending that marriage is their goal when it really is drag visibility.”.

Now you’re blaiming them for the possible bigotted actions of those who’ve seen them. Queer Rising won’t be casting any votes against marriage equality, bigots will and if bigots choose to vote against marriage equality because of drag the bigots are solely to blame for delaying your marriage equality.

There is no evidence that Queer Rising was attempting to undermine or subvert the work towards marriage equality in favour of drag visibility and it is boorish of you to pretend to know their motivations are not the sincere support of marriage equality. There is also no evidence that this protest did in fact harm the cause of marriage equality and judging by the description of the protest you linked to I think its plausible that it did not. Once again, your opinion isn’t fact, its not a given that drag queen visibility caused a negative backlash and if it did they are not to blame for the bigotted actions of the majority.

NoxiousNan
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Jorge, you add zero to the debate with your presumptive insults. Disagreement with you does not equate just not caring about dying children. Sheesh.

Pintuck
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Philip has trotted out that gay culture POV and nailed almost every talking point. It’s a concise case study.

Philip writes: “Historical perspective: I came out 40 years ago, and this argument was already raging then: the assimilationist “good” gays vs. the non-conforming “embarrassing” gays. Probably will continue 40 years after I’m gone.”

He uses the word “assimilationist” as an insult. Is is the derogatory term that gay culture uses for gay acceptance. He doesn’t want gay acceptance. He wants a “separate but equal” lifestyle for gays.

Phillip writes: “The Right will never be happy with us, no matter how much we ape their lifestyle. Fukkim. We’re right.”

This is THE gay culture argument. It goes like this: “Since THEY will never accept us no matter what we do, we might as well make our most revolting sexual fetishes as aggressively public as possible! Fukkim!” Gay culture then equates those same sexual fetishes with “gay liberation”.

Philip writes: “Oh, and before you complain about the glitter in someone’s eye, check your butt for that pesky 2×4 – it’s up there again, girlfriend.”

The defining feature of gay culture is gender-bending. (Not incidentally, this is precisely why they are tearing Timothy a new one: Timothy was attacking the heart, the sacred cow of gay culture: cross-dressing.) That’s why Phillip can’t help himself but pepper his speech with things like “girlfriend”. I can’t make it more clear that this: he thinks being gay is about cross-dressing and acting like a girl. It’s not a stereotype, it’s a culture. Furthermore, Philip will likely accuse you of being “internally homophobic” or “self-hating” (another common abusive gay culture tactic) if you’re uncomfortable with his gender-bending culture. That’s because, to him, being gay is all about cross-dressing and acting like a girl. No, it’s not “who he is”. It’s what he chooses to be.

The only thing Philip didn’t say was to accuse his “oppressors” of being fat, fifty year old trolls who can no longer score in the dingy bar/backroom scene which likely comprises the vast majority of his social existence.

Why do we care what gay culture, the culture of ghettoized drug addicts, has to say about us gay people? Is the unicorn of “gay community” really so vital to us that we must grudgingly admit that drag queens are “us” even though we tolerate drag queens in exactly the same sense that we tolerate a screaming child on a four-hour airplane flight? Gay culture has no respect for us at all. They think we’re “assimilationist” trash! It’s time to ignore them and let them self-destruct in peace (and drugs). Either that or respond with derision and ridicule.

Gay culture harms gay people. Gay culture hates gay acceptance. Gay culture sucks!

Priya Lynn
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Pintuck said ““Since THEY will never accept us no matter what we do, we might as well make our most revolting sexual fetishes as aggressively public as possible!”.

Oh, come on now, no one said any such thing. Pretending when someone says some freedom is good that that means people want to take personal freedom to the most outlandish extremes possible doesn’t do your case any good. Please rein in the hyperbole.

Timothy Kincaid
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Priya, okay. Believe whatever you choose to believe (which is, as always, your right) and I’ll continue stating my opinion.

Priya Lynn
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

I have no problem with that.

Priya Lynn
March 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Pintuck said “JR said it best: “And we shouldn’t be getting our rights by trying to “blend in” and become cookie cutter replicas of the rest of the damaged society we live in.” Do you honestly think he wants or cares about gay acceptance?”.

Yes.

DragCub
March 4th, 2011 | LINK

I, for one, happen to believe that before we are able to win our rights, and possibly even MORE important than winnint just our rights, we need to attack the concept that only some people deserve rights. That’s the whole point of civil rights.

This article was written in the same voice of the folks who decided marriage was the most important right to worry about anyway; while marriage rights are important to some queer couples, the right to employment and housing should be important to ALL. I’ve seen a clear prioritizing of marriage, though, instead, because focusing on that “proves something”.

As for stereotypes: no, we shouldn’t support them, but they are equally damaging if we let them define what we don’t do instead of what we do.

Grover Clark
March 4th, 2011 | LINK

I wish it were easier for humans to distinguish style/taste from substance/morality. Manner of dress and sexual preference are matters of taste. As long direct harm is not a risk, matters of taste need to be left to individual perogative. Those gay persons who object to gender nonconformity on moral grounds are no better than the bigoted individuals who consider same-gender sexual behaviors as universally morally abhorrent. Gender should not restrict individual freedoms no matter how gender atypical the behavior.

Pintuck
March 5th, 2011 | LINK

Grover’s trotting out the gay culture POV again, writing this: “Those gay persons who object to gender nonconformity on moral grounds are no better than the bigoted individuals who consider same-gender sexual behaviors as universally morally abhorrent.”

Because being gay, to him, is all about cross-dressing and acting like a girl, he calls it “gender nonconformity”. In other words, he’s choosing not to “conform” to society’s expectations about how a man should act. If you’re like most gay men, then you think that cross dressing and acting like a girl is gross, so there’s nothing for you to “conform” to. He frames cross-dressing and acting like a girl this way not only because he wants to cross-dress and act like a girl, but also because he wants to equate that with “being gay” as a whole and then force that view on all gay people.

He think you are garbage. Read what he wrote! He thinks you are “no better” than a gay basher if you don’t like cross-dressing and acting like a girl.

It’s time to stop paying attention to gay culture. It’s a weird cult. It’s practitioners call themselves “queers” because they want a “separate but equal” lifestyle for gay people. They want to shame you into accepting it because they want an uninterrupted stream of “chicken” (gay culture jargon for young/underage men) pouring into their ghetto. They promote drug abuse and ruin for gay people.

Gay culture sucks!

Priya Lynn
March 5th, 2011 | LINK

Pintuck there is no monolithic gay culture. Gay culture is highly varied and means different things to different gays.

Pintuck said “He thinks you are “no better” than a gay basher if you don’t like cross-dressing and acting like a girl.”.

No, he said no such thing. He said you are no better than a bigot if you seek to deny others the right to gender nonconformity – there’s nothing wrong with you deciding that its not for you personally.

You’re not helping your cause by lying about what people are saying.

Grover Clark
March 6th, 2011 | LINK

Pintuck,

Are you for real? Do you see any logical inconsistency in supporting gender atypical sexual behaviors and denouncing gender atypical mannerisms, interests, and styles of dress?? Why do you think one gender atypical behavior is fine and others not?

Like all matters of taste, if something is not your cup of tea, don’t sip from it. There is nothing morally wrong with not liking drag or socially steering clear from men with effeminate characteristics. Verbally abusing those with such tastes and habits, however, is morally wrong. As is discrimination against them in employment, housing, and other opportunities.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.