How I feel, a short play:
US Citizen: Hey, when are you going to make testing more readily available so we can know if we’re patient 0 for our friends and co-workers?
US Government: Practice social distancing and only go outside to let your dog poop.
US Citizen: I’m an essential worker. I deal with many members of the public and it’d be great if we could have free or affordable testing made available now.
US Government: We’re trying to flatten the curve.
US Citizen: Great, but about the testing. . .
US Government: Stay home. Don’t leave.
US Citizen: I’d like a test cause I believe I’ve been exposed. . .
US Government: Make sure you pay back your student loans and stay home.
In one of Tajh Jordan’s live videos, she made a comment that hit me so deeply and I wanted to unpack that. She said (paraphrased) that it’s more difficult for people of color to post their Venmo or cash app information. It’s essentially asking for help.
I honestly feel the same. Every time I’ve posted my Venmo or cash app which has actually done nothing to help me (haha) it leaves me feeling gross. Like, I know some of you have heard, “work twice as hard for half of what they got”. It’s still true today, and is very much a truth. Asking for help feels like a last resort. It feels like when you can’t find toilet paper. It feels like when your car breaks down and the commute on bus is just a bit too far so you ask for a handout.
It’s sad really. Even for me, drag keeps my life very comfortable. These are really hard times. Everyone could use a little help. I guess we should just acknowledge that it’s a lot harder for some of us to ask.
Just a small piece of #CocoForThought for you folks. . . It matters JUST as much how you treat a person when you hear they MIGHT have been talking trash about you. If you act distant and cold towards someone you perceive as a shit talker. . . then you might turn that person against you. It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This is toxic behavior. Unless you've heard it from the person's mouth, or read it, you shouldn't treat that person any different. Most of the people you think are out to get you are probably not out to get you. . .not really.
Another symptom of this behavior is you start telling negative stories about this supposed villain just so when you finally confront them you have ammunition. That becomes RIGHT fighting and that's also toxic behavior.
So remember, if you think a person is toxic, check your filters and see what they actually did to you. If it didn't come directly from them, then you may have become the villain in your own story.
Now that the dust has mostly settled I wanted to take a few minutes and recognize that I’m finally free of some of the toxic behaviors that only seem to appear in Grand Junction, Colorado. I owe a lot of who I am to GJ. I met my fiancé there, I graduated school from there, I dove into activism there, and it was honestly very rewarding. Though when I look back on my experiences, I can’t say when I started viewing Grand Junction as a place to grow versus a place to get away from. Sitting in my new home in Portland, Oregon, I think I can tell you the spot.
I had a Facebook post written about me six years ago by another drag entertainer. People who I weren't really friends with liked the post. Some people commented or said horrible things about me, and I was told about the post by many others. It was that moment that I KNEW I needed to get away from that kind of ridiculous drama/hatred. I knew that I couldn’t be part of community that celebrated a person or who allowed such treatment of one of their community members.
It took me a long time to figure out where I needed to be and how I was going to get there. I’m glad I didn’t leave when I wanted to because I would have never met Addam. When Addam proposed to me it changed my life. He made room for me in his life. As much as he feels I stepped into his world, I equally stepped into his. In the three years that Addam and I have been together, we have received an abundance of love and an abundance of hatred. When Addam and I first announced we were dating a friend of mine wrote us talking about how weird Addam was and how it would never work out.
That’s the kind of community I came from. Now I’m here. I’m finishing up my fourth day in Portland, and I’m glad to be away from Grand Junction. I’m glad to be thriving, and hopefully the toxicity never reaches that level again from any city in which I choose to live.
by Coco Jem Holiday.
I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time now. I’ve seen a lot of contention on the internet about AFAB Queens. I must admit, I started my journey with AFAB Queens on the other side of the tracks. I identify as bi-gender. I’ve always viewed drag as an outlet and a platform for gender artistry. When I first encountered my very first AFAB Queen I thought she was trans. I was uneducated. I talked to her about her process and asked her about her preferred pronouns in and out of drag (because they can be different). She explained to me that she was cis-gender and I got really confused. She barely wore any makeup, used her natural hair, and was wearing a costume that you could find in the kinky section of a costume shop. Basically, she was dressed like a gogo dancer and this was my first exposure to an AFAB Queen, and I didn’t get it.
I’m a decent dancer in my boy form. So, does that mean I could be a drag king? It would be a hella lot easier. My facial hair would be natural. It’d be a little less fun because I wouldn’t be transforming. It would be a crap ton faster to just wear my normal clothes and perform. My first thought was that if anyone can do drag, then it makes it less special. I like transforming. I landed on the side of fence of thinking that AFAB Queens really shouldn’t be performing alongside of drag queens. This really was my starting position.
As I started to gain more notoriety in my own drag, I was exposed to many different forms of drag and what drag meant. I interacted with bearded queens, to queens who shaved their face but not their body hair, to queens who didn’t tuck but wore leotards. I was exposed to queens who sang and queens who were using drag as a stepping-stone to transition. I met my fair share of trash queens that had ratted wigs and ripped fishnets. I met Drag Race queens and waited in line for hours to go to a meet-and-greet. I got to talk concepts with title holders, show producers and DJs. I worked with costume designers and many more.
Basically, I was exposed to a LOT more people and ideas.
So, I revisited the idea that ALL forms of drag are valid (regardless if they were good or not). Could a woman be a drag queen? Absolutely. Why? Because RuPaul was correct. Could a cis-male or trans male do drag? Absolutely. Not because I say so but because drag is a profession, it doesn't matter what your gender is underneath. We’re born naked and the rest is drag. It’s our performance to the world.
NOTE: I would have been a terrible drag king. After really understanding what being a drag king actually is, I wouldn't have been able to live up to some of the amazing kings I've met over the years.
Competitions. . .
Can cis-men enter a female beauty pageant. . .no. So why should cis-women be able to enter drag queen pageants? Honestly, I don’t have a clear answer. I know people think that beauty pageants are a different monster, but they’re not, especially if you’ve ever helped someone compete. There are strict rules in ANY competition and ANY leg up would seem unfair. I used to believe that someone with real breasts, or someone who had breasts would make me feel inferior. That was my own insecurity talking. With that, the only REAL advantage an AFAB queen has over a drag queen in a pageant is they have had the ability to be socially accepted wearing makeup since birth. That’s pretty much it. The rest is subjective. Not all cis-women have larger breasts, some still must wear inserts. Some must pad. Sure, women tend to have bigger hips, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to work hard to create the illusion of a drag queen. Yes, I said that correct, drag queens are different than women. If we understand that women and drag queens are different, it makes competitions easier to understand as well.
Drag Race. . .
It’s called RuPaul’s drag race. It’s her rules and her show. She’s also killed herself to further LGBTQi+ movements. She’s also a black man who did something successful and became the BEST AT that thing she was successful for. . .and I refuse to diminish that. As a black person myself, I will always admire that. However, RuPaul says some problematic shit quite frequently and should be called out for it. This does not mean you should take her show off the air and it does not mean you should treat any contestant differently because of it. Do I think that RuPaul should include AFAB Queens on the show? Yes, but in a season of JUST AFAB Queens (but coco that defeats the purpose). Hear me out. Cis-viewers will go on the SAME journey I just talked about. If you want AFAB Queens on the show as a permanent staple, then you need to expose members of the community to it in a way that they can’t possibly think it’s unfair. An apple to apples competition. Then maybe next have an all Trans* Queens season. It’s television, it’s not going to be what you want it to be and trying to diminish the accomplishments of Rupaul is not the way to go about it.
Two points to take note of:
All forms of drag are valid. My first exposure to an AFAB queen taught me that all forms of drag are valid, but they might not be that well executed. Even during writing this post I’ve learned so much about AFAB Queens and their contributions to drag. I honestly believe that most of us are afraid of AFAB Queens because they’re more socially accepted by society. Women are allowed to play with colors, hair and makeup. Men don’t get that luxury without a lot of discrimination. It’s okay to open the door for women to play in spaces that are open to everyone and you DON’T have to feel threatened. Be comfortable in your own drag. As I said before, the competition conversation is a little different, any body modification should be considered in the realm of fair-is-fair. Know that as entertainers, there is room to share the stage, there is room for each of us to boost each other up. The most successful person in the world shares it. Share yours. . . and be inclusive while doing it.
Becoming unburdened is really challenging when you see the destination but don’t know how to get there. With drag I’ve noticed the civil rights issues that plague are society run rampant within the drag community. It’s hard to believe that issues such a racism, colorism, sexism, homophobia even happen in the art form that’s considered taboo by its nature. So, I want to unburden myself. . .
I’ve been thinking a lot about how racism and drag co-mingle. For the most part, this isn’t between other drag queens, but it is about the fans and followers. The most famous drag queen in the world is a black man, and what we see from the negative aspects of drag is that it breeds racism. It’s terrible to be gay, but it’s worse to be black and gay. So often we try to reason with ourselves that since the queer community has had to face so much discrimination that there wouldn’t be room for racism. . .we were wrong. Watching Drag Race and reading Facebook comments you can easily see that there is a difference between people of color and white people. How can we as entertainers be equal if the fans treat us as though we could never be the same. There really is no racial slur for white people. . .however there are so many terrible words for people of color that any wrong move will result in a myriad of Facebook comments slaughtering this person.
If our journey is to really be a unified front of equality, especially in queer space we need to recognize the intersectionality of what we’re doing. We can provide a voice to those who are consistently silenced. If you’re really a fan of drag and don’t like an entertainer, move on. There is no need to cut someone down to make the performer you DO LIKE seem greater. No one is deemed great because the rest are bullied. Someone is deemed great for being great. Leave race out of it and let people be happy.
The CD'S Drag Queen writers include: Coco Jem Holiday and Donatella Mysecrets.