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Sex Roles

, Volume 78, Issue 5–6, pp 367–384 | Cite as

Drag Gender: Experiences of Gender for Gay and Queer Men who Perform Drag

  • Heidi M. Levitt
  • Francisco I. Surace
  • Emily E. Wheeler
  • Erik Maki
  • Darcy Alcántara
  • Melanie Cadet
  • Steven Cullipher
  • Sheila Desai
  • Gabriel Garza Sada
  • John Hite
  • Elena Kosterina
  • Sarah Krill
  • Charles Lui
  • Emily Manove
  • Ryan J. Martin
  • Courtney Ngai
Original Article

Abstract

The present study explored the experience and understanding of gender for gay and queer men who perform drag. It is part of a 20-year program of research focused on how LGBTQ gender identities arise, why they coalesce, and how they are enacted within their social contexts. Interviewers on this topic involving 18 participants were subjected to a grounded theory analysis. Drag genders were tied to common experiences of overcoming social messages that maligned femininity within men, an appreciation of performance arts, and a desire to use social power to confront issues of sexism, genderism, and/or heterosexism. At the same time, participants reported differences in experiencing gender as binary or fluid and in whether they experienced their gender as shifting when engaged in performance. The study contributes to the program of research on LGBTQ genders by examining how drag gender is both essential and constructed, and how it resist sets of oppressive values and is eroticized. It examines how gendered communication functions when performed for audiences and how the social position of these men is both elevated and stigmatized within LGBTQ community. Drag gender’s multiple meanings are credited to its position between gay and transgender politics within this socially transformative moment in time.

Keywords

Drag Gender Gay Crossdressing Queer Transgender 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

I have complied with APA ethical standards through this researh process.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi M. Levitt
    • 1
  • Francisco I. Surace
    • 1
  • Emily E. Wheeler
    • 2
  • Erik Maki
    • 2
  • Darcy Alcántara
    • 1
  • Melanie Cadet
    • 2
  • Steven Cullipher
    • 3
  • Sheila Desai
    • 2
  • Gabriel Garza Sada
    • 1
  • John Hite
    • 2
  • Elena Kosterina
    • 2
  • Sarah Krill
    • 1
  • Charles Lui
    • 1
  • Emily Manove
    • 1
  • Ryan J. Martin
    • 2
  • Courtney Ngai
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Massachusetts BostonBostonUSA
  2. 2.Counseling and School Psychology DepartmentUniversity of Massachusetts BostonBostonUSA
  3. 3.Chemistry DepartmentUniversity of Massachusetts BostonBostonUSA

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