It ain't easy being queen: Luke List on the "anti-masculinity" stigma of drag performance

Categories: Performance

So you brought a little of that trained actor to the Zoe O. persona.

I don't consider myself god's gift to acting or anything like that, but I decided, yeah, I'll do it. At the time, the organizers of this event were people who actually had lived and breathed this drag pageant world. And here I am, with one month before this big show. I remember going to a rehearsal where it was total pageant style -- you step forward, you say your name, you wave and you step back. I mean, it was hardcore. But I just had fun with it.

I had just costumed a show up in Boulder; this really awesome, really weird project. The music department was going to be playing Paul Moravec's Tempest Fantasy and Moravec himself was coming to the university. I had just costumed this project -- just one actress and one dancer.

For Queen of Aces, I just wore the gown from the play! (Laughs.) That's all I had. I came in first runnerup, and I kept getting asked to come back and perform. This is when I fell into this idea of like, "Oh, I don't want to be a drag queen."

What is the drag queen "stigma" about for you?

I went into this drag thing saying I didn't want to be a drag queen, and part of that is a stigma in the gay community. There is an obsession with masculinity; almost more than than I think you might find in the heterosexual male community. There is a misuse of the word "masculine" on gay and hook-up websites. It's as if being physically fit equals masculine. Just because you've been to the gym a few times doesn't mean you're "masculine." And at the same time, it's fighting that never-ending battle of, "Well, I'm feminine and we're a gay community...."

OutFront Colorado has written a lot about racism and homophobia within dating websites. It happens quite a bit. Someone will have a dating profile or whatever, or even just a Craigslist hook-up posting, and they might say something like, "No rice, no chocolate, no mud." I've seen that. And it blows my mind.

Or you'll also see things like, "no fats, no femmes." So, everyone needs to be Hercules walking around? I don't buy into it. I'm sure you're familiar with Grindr -- some genius created a website called Douchebags of Grindr. It's so great, because there are people who are just total jerks on those [sites and apps], so it's good to see a move from the community in a positive direction. You can't get away with being a total racist or homophobic within our own gay community.

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