Media’s Effect on the Evolution of Drag

In the late 1960s, especially after the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York, the LGBTQ+ community and activism began to gain mass coverage in the mainstream media that often-had negative effects on the LGBTQ+ community such as outing people who were photographed participating in the protests, giving the police a voice over the people, and ultimately painting the LGBTQ+ community in a negative and violent light.  

The Queen, a documentary on a drag queen beauty contest that took placed in New York City, was released all around the United States in 1968. The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets praised the film's "real" representation of the drag community, but larger gay organizations such as the Society for Individual Rights expressed how the film only deepened the divide between the gay and straight community as this depiction of homosexuality suggests that all LGBTQ+ community members are drag queens. The different responses to the portrayal of drag in the media help us understand the issues of division over the gender expectations of order LGBTQ+ organizations. 

Throughout the last decade, the drag community has been particularly increasingly present in mainstream media. Ru Paul's Drag Race and Dragula are just two of the popular television shows that explore the world of drag. They provide the drag community a platform within mainstream society... creating access to supplies that drag queens can utilize during performances. Today as drag breaks away from its isolation, there emerges specific makeup lines for drag performances. However, we have seen historically how the mainstream media can essentially create whatever narrative they want about groups of people, such as a drag community. These shows can sometimes exaggerate and manipulate situations for entertainment purposes that end up affecting the public perception of drag. The result, unfortunately, is that the drag community must work twice as hard to debunk the continuous stereotypes portrayed within mainstream media.