Thursday, February 13, 2003

September 10th? What The...

Andrew Sullivan Today:

JITTERS: Suddenly, September 10 again. Friends calling from New York City, asking if I have a spare room. Nervous glances up at the TV screens in the gym. Greta van Susteren declaring a specific cyanide alert in New York City, where none existed. Duct tape jokes. Tanks at Heathrow. It is a war, isn't it? It reminds me that the anti-war protestors are not in fact trying to prevent a war. They cannot - because one has already broken out. They merely want to give up on one critical front. The trouble is: our enemies won't.

Andrew Sullivan, September 10, 2001:

WHAT A DRAG: I dropped by the kind of drag show in Provincetown last Friday night I would never usually attend: a drag show for straight people. It was called "Guys As Dolls," and featured Barbra and Marilyn look-a-likes and brought lots of appreciative oohs and aahs from the largely hetero crowd. The gay guys in audience, I'd say, found it tedious (although one of the performers was pretty great as Susan Lucci in her final Emmy acceptance speech). In fact, there are clearly two kinds of drag shows now around: celebrity imitators for straights and a much different form of theater for gays. Drag for gays these days actually eschews trying to pass off as women, instead caricaturing the way in which our culture promotes and rewards crass diva-dom. The uglier and crasser the impersonation the funnier. In many, there's a whiff of misogyny as well, but it's saved by equal doses of sympathy for the way in which straight women still contort themselves for the pleasure and amusement of straight men. But my point is that this newish kind of drag is ironic, amused, detached, self-mocking. It's post-drag, if you will. And what this goes to show is that drag is changing as the role of gays changes. Gay men do not need to pretend to be women any more to win attention; we can merely play at being men playing at being women. Within a couple of decades, I think, even this may dissipate some, as the whole conflation of homosexuality with gender-transgression fades, and as gay men and lesbians reclaim more fully their respective genders. Drag may eventually disappear altogether - which will be a shame in one respect, since it's a glorious and wonderful tradition. But I won't be sad to see the days pass when gay men had to pass as effeminate or almost indistinguishable from women to gain a foothold of recognition or acceptance. If drag collapses because gay freedom thrives, then it will be a worthwhile trade-off.