by Gaysha Starr
Drag. For over half my life, 25 years, I’ve been doing it – Dressed As A Girl. I’m 46 and started this crazy, wonderful, and sometimes even hateful relationship when I was 21, in April of 1993.
Next to the relationships I have with my family and a few friends, it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had. I often joke that in my era RuPaul was known for being the Supermodel of the World and not for ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’
We didn’t have all of the luxuries that queens and kings have now – social media, smart phones, filters, photoshop, lace fronts, the options of high pigment stage makeup, 301 eyelashes, prepainted glue on nails, AMAZON and YouTube.
We had the Fred Meyers in the Broadway Market to buy our make up and the Brass Connection on Tuesdays and Neighbours on Wednesday, playing cassette tapes, flyering and every Friday the SGN to promote ourselves.
Regardless of what kind of drag one chooses to do the fundamentals for the queens have been pretty much the same: look your best, entertain the masses and for most of us, try to make nice.
I’ve gone through many chapters and some of them I’ve been very proud of and some of them I am thankful I got through.
Thanks to the wonders of social media, we can present ourselves in a way that we choose to; however, at the end of the day when a drag queen puts on her face and, also, at the end of a night takes it off – looking in the mirror can be the most unfiltered part of our life.
What we are covering up and altering can be the most intimate moment, and if you think of it – is the time we have no choice but to be ourselves. That’s probably why next to the runway on ‘RPDR’ – the most compelling part of TV is often shot while the queens are painting in the workroom.
I was taught by my drag mothers and aunts to give back and raise money and that the rewards – often dollar bills, applause and a shiny crown – would come later. Somewhere about five years ago I learned the most important title you will ever have is your name and your legacy, not your pageant title.
I salute my drag sisters and brothers for all they do and sacrifice every time they get in drag:
o The days we listen to songs on repeat not even hearing the song anymore;
o The money we pay and often lose for the glory;
o The physical torture we are putting ourselves through with the welts from the multiple undergarments and numbness we feel in the balls of our feet;
o The many lonely times it’s just us we can depend on and going from the emotional highs from the applause in front of the crowds to the humbling realization it’s just you hauling your bags by yourself;
o The insecure moments looking in the mirror and wondering if you are good enough;
o The critique of others including our peers and others can so freely make
But I don’t think I, or many of us, would change one single thing.
For this upcoming La Femme Magnifique Washington and Washington Plus Pageant [to be held Sunday, May 20, at Neighbours Nightclub, doors at 6pm, show at 7pm, $25 entry, 21+ only] as the queens that I love most reunite to raise money and build community, I wanted to let you know what they and drag means to me.
Thank you for the last 25 years, friends; here’s to many more.
This was originally printed in the Seattle Gay News.