I’m always interested in ways that people bring a feeling of wellness into their lives. Especially if it is an area I am not familiar with. Not too long ago, my cousin Rachel started talking about her fun new hobby – participating in drag shows. I could see from the way she talked about it that this new passion was bringing happiness to her life. If you love someone you are happy when they are happy and you want to know more about it.
Rachel is 25. She is someone I have known from birth and who I have always loved and greatly admired. Rachel really liked the idea of being interviewed for this blog post, about what drag means to her and how it brings a sense of wellness into her life.
Nicole – How did you start participating in drag shows?
Rachel – Living close to the (gay) village, I saw drag queens on a regular basis. I started going out with friends to watch shows. I have always loved to dance. It wasn’t something I thought I wanted to do until my good friend wanted to try it and it was kind of like “If you do it, I’ll do it”. And then I went down a rabbit hole.
Nicole – How do you identify in this environment?
Rachel – I call myself a drag queer – in the community, this means “gender fuck” – I go both ways – I like dressing really sparkly – showing my hyper femininity – and I am also attracted to the attitude of a man and playing with the masculine parts of myself. Drag is playing with gender – gender is the butt of the joke.
Nicole – tell me about your stage name.
Rachel – my stage name is Jen Durex – when I was getting into it, coming up with a drag persona, I knew I wanted to do something in between male/female. Gender X – something in between – androgynous. Jen is the feminine side. Durex (yes, from the condoms), is my masculine side.
Nicole – Do you have thoughts on “women as drag queens”?
Rachel – I can see drag changing a lot. But there have always been women and drag kings in drag.
While I feel as though I have found my people in drag and I have a really supportive community, there are aspects to being a woman in drag that can be upsetting. Women are not able to compete in some established community competitions. But it is changing all the time. There are more places for people who identify in different ways to compete. There are people who have joined the community in the last year who are pioneers of reclaiming space. There is a monthly King show (where I can compete as a King – and where I have competed and have won!). There are also inclusive competitions, such as the Empire’s Ball where all sorts of gender performers and skill levels are allowed to compete.
Nicole – What does performing in drag give you from a wellness perspective?
Rachel – It’s another persona. An opportunity to explore my dominant side. I feel as Rachel, I am more passive. I love to serve others but it becomes a weakness when I let people walk over me. I am naturally non-confrontational. As Jen I am fearless. I’m macho. I can do whatever I want. It’s a mask. I love having an outlet for this expression.
From a physical perspective – when I am up on stage, I am dancing my heart out. For the week leading up to the performance, I am practicing, dancing all the time around my house.
It’s given me more self-confidence. I feel way more confident in my body. It helped me with loving my body. Being able to dance and being able to be in a room with a bra and little dance leggings and feel like the hottest thing ever. It’s a great mode for “not giving two shits” about what I or anyone else thinks.
Through drag I have learned about my queer identity, and I have met a special group of people – both of these things make me feel that I can do anything and this transfers to my day-to-day life.
In a bigger sense, in a world full of negativity and strife, the drag world that I am in provides a cocoon of positivity. For example, there are fundraisers where we raise money for the community and it’s kind of, made me more of an activist, going to protests. Being more involved. Drag is a form of activism for me.
Dear blog readers, I have learned so much about this topic. Do you have any unconventional pastimes that bring you joy, a sense of wellness and community?