Drag: Political Acts of Performance, Identity, Celebration, & Making Space
Foundational Knowledge & Learning How to Learn: Drag is a politically-fuellled art form that has existed for a long time for queer and trans individuals of color and other individuals of varying gender and sexual identities. This form of art allows us to build community, create a culture, mock gender rules and boundaries, be ourselves, be bigger than ourselves, be someone new...drag performers were critical in historic moments of resistance as well as celebration. Drag performers having occupied a large swathe of non-cisheterosexual history is reason enough to seek what knowledge(s) and insights they can provide for these communities for higher education. More information on the foundational knowledge I developed about drag performance in particular, and art and expression in general, can be found within the right column. Queer theory, developed in Intersectional Inquiry and Gender & Sexualities, marry with performance to break down the performativity not only of gender and sexuality, but nearly all aspects of our lives. What makes a woman? What constitutes gender, and how can we dabble in it, play in it, manipulate it to the please or displeasure of others?
Application & Integration: Building community through art is important because it offers a tactile expression of knowledge. Expressing emotion through a variety of mediums is not only critical for myself, but critical for students who seek a variety of forms of expression. Having crafted the bones for the drag show, I have created processes to allow greater student participation in the future with the help of Megan Mosiniak, a graduate assisstant in the Office of Campus Life & Transitions. Other forms of expressions I have participated in has been developing resin-capsules to create sculptures that embody individuals who influenced me in my time in the higher education program. It is my hope that I can take these skills with me into future academic environments to provide students with skills that provide alternative artistic outputs for expression. As we welcome these practices into the field of academia as valid ways of knowing or of learning, we can understand them and even look more-critically at these methods to expand upon them.
Human Dimension & Caring/Valuing: My time during holidays was never occupied with my family because I could never afford to go home. With the internship requirement of our program leaving my partner and I living on Saltines, money wasn't aplenty. I had to find my own community outside of the program to satiate any sense of family or belonging...I found this by participating in community fundraisers or showcases within the queer community when it was time for institutional breaks. These gave me the chance to connect with members of my community as well as for a chance for me to take some of what I had learned from my Public Policy course to assess-better what practices could be bettered for the queer community. Some attempts to assess these practices can be found under the "Research & Inquiry" tab.
This performance was my second in the Denver area- During school breaks, I like to dedicate my time to performing in charity-based events within the local community and this was a toy drive for local youth where we raised over $200 in a matter of hours.
This performance was the first-ever drag show at St. Michael's, this event was a coordination between their Gender & Sexuality Class and myself. As a religious institution, making space for gender variant lives is not the easiest thing to do, and this is a particular moment of pride to have the opportunity to have a space to express care for a community.
Mhisty Knights: at 2:00
Cherie Insanity: at 6:20
Edda Belle: at 9:20
Aurora Risay: at 15:00
Mhisty Knights second performance: at 24:00
Miss Crime Scene: at 34:30
Paula Tricks (me!): at 45:00 (Don't mind me, I just slipped once or twice)
Luci Furr-Matrix: at 49:00
Why It's Important Academically
While drag performances are rarely considered in the fields of higher education and academia, the performing arts in general-- of which drag is but one medium-- is filled with the potential to "allow us to shed light on the necessary correctives ethnographers could make to more accurately communicate the relationship between knower and known" (p. 435).
Why It's Important To Me Emotionally
When my cup is empty, I find it filled with bravery and love. My family has almost always been my friends and fellow performers. Where else would I find people who understand what it means to be trans and a drag performer? Where else can I find space to be authenitcally me? My respite was my community, and was a destabilizing of cisnormativity that permeates DU.