The first time I watched drag I didn’t understand it, but I knew it was something special. It was a late Saturday evening in a dimly lit downtown bar that was shoulder-to-shoulder, sardine-stuffed with people waiting for something to happen. Squarely facing an illuminated vacant stage, the energy was buzzing and the music was climbing from inaudible to deafening.
The curtain would part and one radiant, animated woman stepped out to reveal a steep stiletto. Mic in hand she began mouthing the words of an iconic Cher song. To an onlooker peering through the steamed up window of the ancient pub, it looked pretty straightforward. But there was nothing straight about it.
The Rest is Drag: A Soul Living a Human Experience
“You’re born naked and the rest is drag” -RuPaul
At first glance, drag may seem as performative and surface-level as a beauty pageant, but the underlying message is much more profound. Drag transcends straight lines, compartmentalized labels, and the very idea of humanness itself. Drag teaches people to go beyond their limited perception of their human “self”.
It’s all temporary. The paint, the powder, and even the body. In the end we’re born human and we’re all dressing up in the morning to play the part we have chosen. Taking it all less seriously, and embracing the freedom of expression and freedom of lifestyle that should be available to us all, is a great gift and an even greater lesson.
Resistance to Drag and Mutability
I think a lot of people fear what they don’t understand. Ultimately, resistance is fear. Labels are handy in a world we fear because it gives us expectations. Dismissing the basic labels we’ve become accustomed to like man, woman, straight, gay, is de-stabilizing for many people. People have become so used to seeing the world for what they call it, instead of just letting it be what it is.
“Be willing to die and be reborn” -RuPaul
Labels are pretty bullshit. Clinging to an identity simply enhances the ego. If you’re a CEO and cling to your title, losing your job means losing your “self”. If you identify as an anxiety-sufferer, you’re going to act the way you believe an anxiety-sufferer would act. This is why labels are limiting.
How to Take Your Identity Less Seriously
If we all recognized labels don’t mean anything wouldn’t life get a little more fun? Without adhering to static identities you can walk into any environment with a role of your choice. You can drop the “I’m shy” label and spark up a conversation, you can ditch the “I’m insecure” label and glow with confidence, you can abandon the “I’m not funny” BS and crack a few unexpected jokes.
This realization breaks the entire system. I remember one day a teacher of mine asked his class:
Do you like things to be the same all the time or do you like change?
The youthful, vivacious high school kids scoffed.
We want change, we want excitement, we don’t like predictability.
Oh yeah? Something twinkled in his eye like he had us trapped.
Then why do you come into my class day after day and sit in the same seats. These seats weren’t assigned to you, and yet you picked one and decided to sit there the rest of the year.
This stuck with me. We sit in these seats of identity and we figure it’s easier not to move. We don’t want to ruffle any feathers, we don’t want to mess with the order of things, so we pick a seat and we stay there.
Recognizing the Oneness
The state of affairs feels divisive at this moment in time. Attention must be directed to our sameness instead of our difference. We are all souls living a human experience. Each human has a degree of feminine divine energy and masculine divine energy. We can step into any identity we choose. Recognizing the greater oneness that runs through each human (and non-human) on earth, fosters a space for non-exclusive love and acceptance.
We’re all performing our concept of identity. When we’re lying on our deathbed, it becomes clear that we can’t take anything with us. The identity we wore is just as temporary as the outfit on our skin. So who will you try on today?