The Swan of Avon would wonder what in hell the problem was. There was no issue for Shakespeare. Boys and young men played female parts at The Globe and elsewhere. That was the law, and no avoiding the wrath of The Lord Chancellor. Where in London could you find a black actor to play Othello anyway?
I speak for no-one except myself, and we need to be clear about one thing, Glasgow’s Free Pride have screwed up fabulously. I’m sorry about that, but I am glad that we can now debate the issue.
I didn’t attend the Pride rally in Edinburgh this year. There were reasons . . . well there was one really good reason. I should explain. I’m a transsexual woman. Last year, I was given a big thumbs up from two blokes – “Great costume!” Oh, crap! Really? And screw you too!
I don’t “pass” all too well. I don’t care. I am me. I am a woman. I have a history. I don’t need male oppression and gender stereotyping when I attend a Pride rally. I was dressed appropriately. I’m tall, a little overweight and I tend to dress M&S classic. It suits me best, and I’m comfortable with the look. I’m sixty two. I wasn’t in a costume. I wasn’t in drag. I get enough crap from troglodytes on public transport and in the street. Don’t need it on a day on which we can celebrate pride in our solidarity.
Did I mention that I’m sixty-two? I did, didn’t I. I am. I am a child of the fifties and sixties. This was the time when a troop of white males dressed themselves in black-face and “blackened” their voices, and were a big hit on the BBC in their preposterous dandy get up.
The world has changed since this kind of thing was okay. “What’s the harm?” “There’s nothing wrong.” “This is a positive portrayal of black culture.”
Nope! This was racist. This denigrated everyone. It pandered to stereotypes, and it held us all – black and white – in a place that made it harder for us to progress the rights of all of our citizens. The Black and White Minstrels have been consigned to the dustbin of racially abusive television
“But, not drag. That’s just a bit of fun!”
Not for me. Certainly not for me. Drag is part of the apparatus where I am seen as a man in costume. This crap harms me and contributes in its own small way to a climate in which trans women are targets of ridicule, abuse and violence. Has that got you laughing? Maybe it did!
Drag isn’t funny. Even were I not trans, I would need to fear this because drag denigrates women, drag portrays women as stereotype vamps, and matrons, tarts and pantomime dames. This is just ugly stuff.
It’s a long time since Shakespeare died. The world has changed. Soon enough male to female drag will be seen as a form of violence against women. In the meantime, I have to live with the consequences. Drag is a contribution to the objectification of all woman, and particularly harms transsexual woman in a world hostile to our very existence.
Danny La Rue? Not funny. RuPaul? Not funny and preposterous. Lily Savage? Boring. Dame Edna? Boring and not funny.
Mrs Brown? Would this be as funny if it were a man playing Mr Brown? You think it would? So why the drag?
I do laugh a lot. I love comedy that doesn’t need to pander to what is worst in or culture, that doesn’t resort to racial or cultural or gender stereotypes.
Eddie Izzard? Fine by me. Eddie doesn’t do drag. Eddie is a transvestite, not dressing up as a woman. There really is a world of difference.
You don’t get it? I don’t care. The comments box is below.