Thursday, June 09, 2011

This is Gay Pride?

Men dresssed and made up as women to celebrate Gay Pride Month of June


June is now universally known as gay pride month.  June is the date because that is the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969 when the gay patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York City rebelled against the time honored tradition of the police busting them just for assembling in a bar.  Most of the gays who rebelled were drag queens.

Now I'm the first to admit that some of the bravest "men" I've meet and seen over the years have been drag queens.  I especially remember one event that occurred at the Westbury Bar in Philadelphia in 1969 that involved a black man named "Sara Vaughan" and my obnoxious butch gay friend (not really, more of an acquaintance) Joe M.  Joe was casually insulting Sara for being a 'drag fag' (Joe was gay himself by the way) while they were both in the waiting line to go to the Ladies Room at the Westbury.  Sara finally had enough and 'she' turned around and gave butch Joe a punch right in his face.  Joe, in shock and disbelief, swung back and the next thing everyone knew, both were on the dirty, drink-spilled floor of the bar, trying to land punches on one another.  During the melee, Sara lost her wig.  The bouncer finally separated the two gay men (one a black drag queen and the other a plaid shirted, dungaree wearing cowboy) Sara screamed "Where's my wig?!  Where's my wig?!"  Somebody scooped it up off of the mucky floor and handed it to her.  It looked like week old roadkill that had been through several rains.

Needless to say, I had a new found respect for drag queens.  Now having said that, now I'm going to get something off of my chest that has been bothering me for a long time.

Every June there are gay pride parades through out the world.  These parades are covered by the media.  There are many participants in these gay pride parades.  SOME of the participants are drag queens much like the two pictured at the beginning of this post.  MORE are just regular gay folk like myself.  So who does the media cover when reporting on the gay pride parades?  Drag queens.  That bothers me because it presents a picture of all gays as drag queens.  I have no desire, no have I ever had a desire to be a drag queen.  I have always enjoyed being a male.  In fact I am so thankful that I was born a male, not that there is anything wrong with being a female (some of my best friends are after all), it's just that I prefer being a male.  In fact I like males so much, that I've lived with one for the past 46 years (soon to be 47 this July).

So every year when the gay pride parades hit the news, let's lay off the drag queens.  Hey, I like them and have been entertained by them many times over the years.  And at one time one of my good friend was a drag queens ("she" died some years ago).

I now live in the Rehoboth Beach area of coastal Delaware.  Rehoboth Beach and the surrounding areas of Lewes, and Milton are very gay friendly and becoming more so as the years go by.  Many straights also visit this beach resort area.  What the straights see mostly of the gays are the very visible drag queens who put on shows for the straights.  I believe everyone has the right to earn a living but to me gay men performing as drag queens (and STILL impersonating Liza, Barbra and Judy - when is THAT GOING TO STOP?) is like black men performing minstrel shows for the whites. This might be considered a harsh judgement by some but hey folks, that's just the way I see it.

Now that I've gotten that off of my chest I want to say that I am proud to be a gay man and very impressed with the progress that has been made towards 'acceptance' (I hate that term but can think of no other) of gay men and women in the year 2011.  Never in my wildest dreams when I was the Only Gay Man in the World in 1960 did I think this country would have ever come this far.  But now that we have, can we please drop the gay stereotype of the drag queen?

9 comments:

  1. Ron,

    Come on, Ron, that's how the media works on everything. I gave up on the media in the 1950's when a reporter asked me to get in a picture for the paper in front of a wrecked car. He said, "Hey Kid, you'll be on the front page tomorrow, I need some life in the picture." Two people had just died in that car and a truck driver at that moment was being cut out of his cab up on the road and this guy wants to stage his photo. You have any kind of get together, rally, protest with hundreds of souls behaving civilized, but the news will show the three or four acting badly.

    Lar

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  2. You're absolutely right Larry! I went to the first Gay March on Washington in 1979. There were at least 100,000 people there just like me. So what did I see on the news when I got home? Only the outlandish characters like men dressed as nuns on roller skates and near naked bikers. They were such a small part of the whole march but of course they were the only ones who made the news. Stereotypes reinforced.

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  3. yes , I agree and S&M people, too!

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  4. Boring normalcy isn't titillating and doesn't sell papers.

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  5. I don't they will be going anytime soon. Both straights and gays - for better or worse - see them as the archetypal 'ambassadors' of gay pride.
    It would be like banishing Santa from Christmas - many try, but he won't budge.

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  6. You're right Dr. Spo, men dressing as exaggerated versions of women during Gay Pride Month will always be with us. I don't hate drag queens or drag shows. They can be fun and I've enjoyed them as much as anyone else. In fact, I have respect for men who do drag. But I have to admit I am getting tired of all gays being depicted this way to the straight world. It's sort of like the old black face minstrel shows representing all blacks. It's so over.

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  7. Lar,

    Like you I gave up on the media a long time ago. I had a similar experience that you had when I worked at Girard Bank in Philadelphia and a local media type covering an accident on Chestnut Street asked me and my friend Alice to pose like we were repealed by the size of the destruction of the automobile. This request left a bad taste in my mouth. This was just my one little touch with media. It made me think "What goes on that I don't know about?"

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  8. Anonymous10:53 PM

    It was clever to compare drag queens to minstrels for another reason. The first minstrels were not black, but white men in black face. After the civil war blacks were allowed on stage in the north and believe it or not also often performed in black face!

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  9. Anonymous,

    I did know that the first minstrels were white men in black face then after the Civil War black men also performed in black face. What gets me about drag queens and drag shows is that they are still impersonating Judy, Liza, Barbra and Bette Davis. I saw my first drag show in the late 70's and they haven't change much since then. I think it is time that gays have moved past this aspect of gay life.

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