Getting my hair cut by a friend recently, we started chatting about the just passed “Red Dress” event in Seattle where gay men don ladies’ attire- specifically, red dresses- to increase awareness of HIV and AIDS and raise a huge amount of money for the cause as well. Some go all out: shave the legs, mascara the eyes and heel the shoes, while others go as men… in a red dress. My friend excitedly declared he hoped they bring the event up to Vancouver cause he can’t wait to try on a dress and go nuts for the night; I was curious to hear that he actually looked forward to going out in women’s clothing. My question of: “Really?” was met with a resounding: “Yeah! It’d be so hot!” Scrunching up my face as I imagined what my bearded, 6″1 friend would look like in a BCBG original, cherry-coloured backless, I realized I would lose whatever sexual attraction I would usually muster for him the second I saw him dolled up. It got me to thinking: does drag actually turn gays on or is it just a way to express oneself without involving a stirring in the loins?
Coming off a recent article regarding racial preferences in dating, I thought this might be an interesting follow up as I’ve heard a myriad of different views on this topic for years now. Before we delve into the wider net of gay drag in general however, let’s begin by focusing first on drag queens specifically. I absolutely love a good drag show: the fantasy, the glitter, the ebullient singing and crowd “reading” (thank you RuPaul for that term ;). One of our writers Tommy D shim-self puts on a show more than a few times a year as the brobdingnagianly tall and extravagant “Syren” and it’s always a blast to attend. I can even appreciate the unique beauty and work required to pull off a realistic look: our reigning drag empress Raye Sunshine has an undeniable sexiness that even manages to appeal to the 2% remaining hetero part of me. BUT, as they are men, and I like men, I am not able to achieve wood knowing that their gibblies are tucked and taped away and that there’s more MAC slapped on their mugs than a 90s Tammy Faye Bakker.
My first question has got to be: what are gay men attracted to in drag queens, the male, the female, or simply the performer? Never having really given it much thought before, I suppose my forced answer on this one might be that maybe it doesn’t matter? I see drag queens as this “other” category that certain people out there are able to sexualize based on their personality and- in this case- showmanship wherein what what the turned on mo is interested in is the person/character and not their privates. But, then, I remember that at the end of the day, there IS a penis down there and I’m sure a lot of gay men keep that in mind and have an attraction to our hypothetical “Miss Carriage”, all the while thinking of what the peen on our ovary-less lady looks like. So, to those men I ask: “Doesn’t the make-up and spanx get in the way of you liking men?”
Returning to the concept of gay drag in general, I suppose for me, this issue is more of a personal one and for that reason I shouldn’t assume it’s a “problem” any other gay man out there has. To me, a gay guy who applies a coat of blush or a layer of foundation or whatever the hell that pencil thing for your eye is called, is not the guy for me. To each his own, but even walking shoulder-to-shoulder as a friend, I think I might have a problem with it. Sure, fetish nights at local gay clubs brings out the craziness in people, but day to day or even weekend to weekend, a “getting ready” regime that includes something purchased across the counter at Clinique is not something my sexuality is prepared to deal with. Admittedly, I perform certain “manscaping” routines that have been dismissed as “unmanly” by my more traditional and man-purist friends as they wonder how any gay could trim a nether region, shave a chest or even fake-and-bake and still call themselves a real man. So, I guess it’s all a matter of where you draw the line.
Returning to the faction of men who do get a “stir down there” from seeing gays in drag, I wonder if there’s a predominant desire to top or bottom for the “ladies”…? Maybe that’s a dumb question akin to: “Do most gays like to bottom or top?” Setting aside the fact that nearly every city I visit/view on Manhunt has page after page of mo’s complaining there’s is the city of “no tops”, the likelihood is that you’ll find a 50/50 average between the two preferences (including those much-sought after “vers” boys). So, would this number apply to men who get turned on by drag? Again, I have a hard time believing that when you see that chicken cutlet-stuffed and painted-an-inch-thick man/lady, you get to thinkin’: “Man, I can’t WAIT for him/her to top me!” Am I being close-minded? I’d compare it to the daddy/son relationship between many gay men which often pairs a built, hairy older man (top) with a young, smooth and lithe boy (bottom). Clearly, that is not necessarily the positions those two must/will take, but I think for the most part we can agree that’s what happens once the 45-year old gets me back to his place (WHOOPS! TMI ;) Does this type of positional association/assumption carry over into the world of drag doers (ie. those who do boys in drag)? Hell, maybe I’m looking at this all wrong and the commanding and bold presence of these often larger than life lovelies screams (in falsetto of course): “I’m a Top!“…? Certainly not a question I have the answer to ha.
Finally, to return to the naysayers of drag-sex out there… just how much do you not see the draggers as a source of sexual inspiration? Personally, my answer is: “Just not for me.” Still, I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard the declaration: “If I ever saw a guy I liked in drag I would lose all attraction to him instantly.” Does that seem reasonable or too harsh? I’m frequently hard-pressed to make any statement with the connotation of “always”, “ever” or “all”, so this bold statement doesn’t quite apply to my personal feelings, but I can understand the sentiment. When you enjoy men and all the parts that come with that, to see them tucked away and molded into their double-X chromosomal counterparts… doesn’t that cause a bit of the ol’ cognitive dissonance? While I would hope- haven’t tested it yet- that seein’ a crush in lingerie wouldn’t irrevocably shatter my ability to see em’ as a sexy piece of meat, I’m not sure I wouldn’t flash back to those nylons and nail polish every time I saw him in the bedroom.
In the end, it’s all a matter of personal preference. Is it wrong to dismiss a man sexually for his predilection to get on stage and let “her” rip or don a frock and take on the alter-(she)-go for a night? Or, are we just livin’ the way our libido directs us and shame be damned if that leads to a lady packin’ some pocket sausage? I’d love to hear from all sides of the story on this one and particularly from the drag lovers out there (there MUST be a term for those boys… Tommy, can you help me out here?), if not the gays who drag, themselves ;) Tell me what I’m missin’ out on!