The past few Sundays, one of my friends just so happened to host a viewing party for one show in particular that I've always been very fond of (but I haven't had a tv for years, so I wasn't watching for the last few seasons). Ru Paul's Drag Race (more specifically, Ru Paul's Drag Race Season 3 All-Stars)! I love this show for many reasons, but the number 1 reason is probably the entertainment level being so top notch. It has singing, dancing, fashion, acting... basically everything! One central element of the show is the lip sync segment which happens during each elimination. Now, if you know me at all, you know I love to lipsync, so I immediately started to research the subject, "Can women do drag?". ( I know, I know, my Google search history could be a blog topic of its own.) Surprisingly enough, I saw so many articles and interviews to the contrary. People of the drag community were in a tizzy about biological women wanting to be labeled as drag queens specifically. It just all felt a bit confusing to me, so I started to think a little deeper about the labels and boxes that society seems to have for everything and everyone. Do these labels and categories help create communities of support or do they just limit our chances of ever all coming together as a whole?
I don't know about any of you, but I've actually always struggled with the concept of ANY label. I know some people who are proud this and proud that, but I've always wanted to just BE. This goes for race, sexuality, occupation, religion, and any other thing you can think of that has its own sector in the world. Just like how I think it's weird and random for a stranger to come up to me and ask "what am I" in reference to my ethnicity, I feel as though we are all human before pretty much anything else. What does me telling you "what I am" have anything to do with anything? In society, I think people use labels more for the purpose of segregation than inclusion. We announce what we are so that we can find others like us and stick with them. When others try to "infiltrate" the clear lines we have established in our groups, all heck breaks loose. Think about the last time you asked someone a label-y question (i.e. what is your race, orientation, religion, tax bracket, vegan, non-vegan, etc). What was your reason for asking? Did you view the person differently afterward?
If you look at how certain platforms such as Facebook have grown, groups seem to be a new rage. Sure, even I have sought out a few (mainly crochet and black mirror discussion groups). Some groups I'm in just so happen to be for specific types of people, such as women, or people of color, or something like that. I agree that these places allow people to open up more about things they probably wouldn't while in the presence of a wider demographic. It's also nice to find those who are going through similar struggles as we are. The whole "me too" movement started out with a simple hashtag but helped millions and billions of women from around the world find and support each other. Without finding others like us, we feel very alone and often afraid to be our true selves. Through the power of the internet and lightning fast worldwide communication, this process has become much simpler. However, even with the seemingly simplistic, more problems do begin to arise.
Where does the inclusion turn into an intrusion? When someone labels themselves as a vegetarian...yet eats fish, they go into yet another category... Lord forbid they are labeled the same as a true vegetarian. When a gay man has a crush on a girl... they go into another category, bisexual. They are no longer a representation of "gay" to some. I could go on, but I think you may be understanding where I'm coming from. While finding people like us is amazing, should we exclude others from learning and experiencing who we are? In some ways I think that those of us who have been marginalized many times over are used to being placed in boxes, so we tend to do the same for others. It's a vicious cycle. People in these certain communities can be so protective because of the simple fact that they've been hurt by the "others". A defense mechanism is to keep them all out... but isn't that just an eye for an eye?
We are all multidimensional and multilayered individuals who fit into so much more than the labels we have created for ourselves. The fact of the matter is if I wanna dress up in sparkles and do lipsync performances, I'm gonna. People can call it what they may. I'll just call it me having fun. We can't control what others will label us as, but we can certainly overcome trying to categorize ourselves every waking moment of our lives. It's exhausting! As the great Popeye once said, "I am what I am, and that's all that I am". When people are labeled as anything, I think it starts to become more of a self-fulfilling prophecy towards keeping the purity of the particular label...restricting us from differences. Even when it comes to harsh labels back in our childhood days; shy, slow, chubby, stuck-up, goody two shoes... these things can stick with us our entire lives. We are all so much more than these simple words, so let's try to not be so bound to them. It's all a very interesting subject though. Do any of you have stories about inclusion or exclusion within marginalized or non-marginalized communities? Let me know your thoughts! I seriously do love lip syncing though, even if the Queens won't accept me (and even if this video is a tad off beat).
P.s. Shangela was robbed.
P.p.s. I remember back in the day when I was a little kid, Me and my cousins started a group with "no boys allowed". The simple reasoning behind that was we thought they'd do something to mess it up and take it over. Which I'm sure the same could be applied to groups of today. But even at the end of "The Little Rascals", the He-man woman haters club ended up joining forces with the girls...and I think everyone had a much better time like that.
P.p.p.s. Not really sure why, but the only label I proudly proclaim is Gemini. Geminis are awesome!