Family and Drag – Part I
Parents, Drag, and Celebration
This bisexual woman enjoys drag, but has not shared it with her mom, because her mom has been only conditionally supportive. Yet, her mother calls her and asks to she the videos of her performances. At first the daughter questions her mother’s motivation and says no, but after time passes the mother is able to express her wish to see them, without the intent to judge.
This posted depicts the complicated relationship between parents and their children, even when the children are all grown up and living life away from home. I hope that the writer is correct and her mother is ready to be exposed to her drag performance videos openly and with acceptance, if not with appreciation.
The author’s hesitation springs from experience. Her mother doesn’t embrace her LGBT identity, but she doesn’t condemn it either. The point that the writer makes about her mother showing up when asked, but not celebrating her daughter’s identity spontaneously is crucial.
Celebrating your kids for being who they are, without being asked is essential to raising healthy, confident kids and having family relations that are authentic and meaningful. This writer says:
I’m fairly certain that my mother will die and I will still never be fully sure about her feelings towards my life. That’s just the kind of person she is; her cards are usually played close to her chest.
This seems like a common sentiment, but such a sad one. I certainly don’t want that with my daughter.
This writer is brave and vulnerable – right on! She’s right if there is headway made at least one party must be vulnerable and take a risk. I wish her the best.
Family and Drag – Part II
Beautiful Transgressions and Taking the Long View
Speaking of taking risks: recently my lovely daughter was in a big, family wedding. She willingly grew her hair out for six months, wore a pastel bridesmaid’s dress, and as far as I can tell didn’t come out to anyone during the weekend, which would have caused drama that both detracted from the bride’s special weekend in the spotlight and added more stress to an already stressful situation. My daughter was gracious and accommodating or at least that’s what I discerned.
BUT – when it came time to pack for the events of the long weekend she announced that she would be wearing her suit and tie to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. I even took her out and bought some really stylish black dress shoes from the boy’s section of the shoe store. Dressing in what was essentially drag* for the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, was both risky and beautifully transgressive.
Apparently the wedding planner could stop referring to our girl as he and him, no matter how many times my daughter corrected her.
According to my daughter this angered her, yet I wonder if there is a part of her that expected (hoped) this would happen because it drew attention to the very nature of her gendered performance at that moment. She is shrewd like that – she always has been. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about her. She can take the long view when she wants to undermine the status quo/powers that be.
You definitely can get a sense of this ability in My Daughter’s View of Herself, when I describe her clear three-year plan to address gender, then gay awareness/rights, and then being out at school. She may not be aware of her astute stratagem, but do it intuitively.
She’s taking calculated risks, making herself vulnerable, pushing the envelope of accepted behavior, addressing the reaction, and then pushing further. I definitely don’t want to think of this being directed toward teenage defiance. Yikes . . . and wow.
*Notes on Drag
I say “drag” because this is what it must look like to outsiders, but I don’t think of it this way because from day-to-day, sometimes hour to hour, our girl dress in outfits that range from the extremely feminine to the fully masculine. For us it is all her – there is no differentiation between what is performance and what isn’t. It is all performance, and none of it is.
This morning she went off to school in a short, pleated gray and pink plaid skirt, a gray t-shirt with a pink bow embroidered on it, silver flats with silver roses on them, and a pink and gray sweatshirt to keep away the autumn chill. Her nails are painted a precious lavender and she is wearing sparkly earrings.
Which outfit is drag?
The New York Times ran this story on Friday: The Freedom to Choose Your Pronoun.
The story, about the recent adoption of “other” as an option beyond “female” and “male” by some institutions and entities (like Google+), focuses on teenagers in a manner that suggests that eschewing the gender binary is the result of rebellion and youthful transformation. This offers a somewhat skewed image of the developments in fluid gender identity and the expansion of preferred gender pronouns (P.G.P.s).
Maybe this isn’t an instance of teenage rebellion. Perhaps this upcoming generation of adults has an understanding of gender that is more nuanced. Haven’t we worked hard to make a more complex understanding of gender possible?
Also, by relegating gender flexibility or gender queerness to the realm of the teen the article calls into question the choices of much older adults who identify themselves as beyond the binary. Are they just rebellious? Immature?
I understand that kids and teens experiment with their identities. They should; it’s important to learning who they are, but this story frames this issue as though it is primarily an issue of teenagers.
I know it’s great that stories like this are making it onto the pages of publications like the NYT, but it saddens me when they seem to be framed in a way that will educate, but not frighten the uninformed readership.