Drilling Down Through the Sources – This is a Research Class Afterall

In order “to create an organized scholarly library of texts found online” I began by downloading Zotero. Soon after I watched several tutorials in order to begin. I am still persevering to learn more about organizing sources further and have been able to use what I have found to garner academic and non-academic sources. I began my research with an article from the Journal of Homosexuality entitled The Absolutely Fabulous but Flawlessly Customary World of Female Impersonators by Steven P. Schacht which I acquired through Rowan’s database. This lead me to a journal called Inside Out: Lesbian theories, gay theories and the article within Boys Will Be Girls: The Politics of Gay Drag by Carole-Anne Tyler. This journal article is archived in Zotero under the journal name as it is available as a PDF. The final article referenced in the prior is The Banality of Gender by Simon Watney.

The articles create a staircase of information in reference to gender in society and the representation of such in drag queen performances. Watney focuses on the expectations of the two genders in society through categories of the law, the state, and sociology. Watney builds “the axes of sexual difference: gender identity and object choice” according to Tyler. Then Tyler contrasts Watney’s ideas from his July 1986 article to inverse theory of sexuality. This theory states that a male child (referred to as  a “future invert”) who becomes homosexual later in adulthood has had a time in childhood in which he strongly identified with a female adult as an authority figure and therefore “inverts” common sexual traits attributed to women in society onto himself. Tyler writing in 1991, however, further goes on to explain that should a gay or lesbian couple have one feminine partner and one “butch” partner the inverse theory does not apply to one of them, because one has not applied the opposite gender’s characteristics to himself or herself through identification with a strong opposite gender adult figure in youth. In this way Tyler dispels both Wantney’s idea of gender imposed solely by societal constructs as well as inverse theory, neither of which were accepted by the gay and lesbian communities in the decade she was writing. Tyler further then goes on to highlight these ideas as connected to or disconnected from drag queens.

Most strongly Tyler hones in on the use of camp in drag performances and its interpretation by the gay community. Campy humor in drag culture is over-the-top theatrics that are bold and irreverent. Clown queens, also referred to as Camp queens, were once looked down upon by the gay community. According to what Tyler writes, “…camp was an embarrassment to the gay community…”  after the Stonewall Riots and perhaps even earlier on. Ideas like Watney’s and those represented by the often disrespectful satire of drag queens are topics Tyler goes back to within her article to represent the importance of drag queens in the historical evolution of the gay community in the United States, while still focusing on distinct gender representations of  homosexual individuals in and out of drag.

Finally, in The Absolutely Fabulous , But Flawlessy Customary World of Female Impersonators Schacht delves into the argument that drag queens can represent women and femininity as it is in our current culture and at the same time wield stereotypical male power through a drag culture hierarchy. The more feminine a drag queen seems the more successful she is within the echelons of the drag world. Ironically, this convincing representation of female persona is still within the confines of a male competitive structure. Here the author builds on the previous author’s work by stacking the premise that drag queens use customary feminine attributes to gain commonly expected male power and recognition on top of the concept that homosexual male drag queens at some time so closely looked up to or related to a female authority figure as to internalize that as power to be later coveted in adulthood.  The writer goes on to include other societal labels such as nationality and race to further explore interpretation of drag performances and power. By 2008, when Schacht wrote for Journal of Homosexuality the interconnectivity of these three articles over the span of more than a decade not only displays the authors’ uses of the prior work, but also the changes in thinking about the gay community, drag queens, and drag culture.


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