My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

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My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby emzy9810 » 20 February 2020, 00:13

Hi. My name's Emily. I identify as queer and I'm currently dating a cis straight man.

I was walking past a gay bar last night with my boyfriend, and I said mentioned I couldn't wait till I could go (I'm underage), as a lot of local drag queens perform there and I'm actually quite good friends with some of them.

He immediatyly looked sort of uncomfortable and said that he didn't like drag. Which is fine. I respect that. Just because I enjoy drag doesn't mean he has to, but then he started elaborating. Apparently drag makes him uncormfortable. He doesn't like seeing it at all. Even men with nail polish make him uneasy. I don't understand why. I mentioned that they're not hurting him, They're doing what makes them happy and they're not hurting anyone else in the process so what's the issue?

He grew up in a more 'bogan' part of Wellington. His parents didn't raise him really. They never said anything bad about the LGBTQ+ communtity but I think because of where he grew up and because of the peoplehe interacted with he thought thatbeing gay was weird and wrong. He's worked out that he was wrong, his sister is bisexual and I'm open about my sexuality with him. He doesn't completely understand people who are gender diverse but doesn't dislike them if that makes sense. But something about drag just sets him off and it's an issue for me. It's his one and only red flag. I love him but this shit is going to eat away at me. I don't want to change him at all, I don't want to be that type of person but I don't know if I can see this relationship being long-term if he's that uncomftable with something I value and love so much. I'm not asking for him to watch drag with me, I just want him to be able to see a drag queen or a feminine man and not get uncomfortable. Is that too much to ask for?

If he's still like this in 3-6 months I might have to geniunly rethink this reltionship, even though I really don't want to.

I'm probably making a big deal about nothing but I'm concered that there's more things like this we might disagree with? What if he's still internally homophobic? What if he's transphobic?

I have a habit in relationships where I don't acknowledge if something;s bad so I just want to ensure I'm not doing it again in this relationship. It's probably nothing but I just want to be sure if that makes sense :)
Last edited by emzy9810 on 20 February 2020, 00:50, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Brenden » 20 February 2020, 00:39

'I'm not asking for him to go to the circus with me, I just want him to be able to see a clown and not get uncomfortable.'

My advice to him would be to get out of the relationship and find someone normal who doesn't use terms like "cis" and "gender diverse".
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Derek » 20 February 2020, 00:45

Don't be a dick Brenden.

OP, I don't see that it necessarily has to be an issue that he doesn't like drag. It's a weird concept for people who've never had any exposure to it, and I wouldn't confuse it for a prejudice against the LGBT community. Feeling uncomfortable is an involuntary reaction and you shouldn't hold it against him if you don't have any other reason to believe there's something wrong with his outlook.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Magic J » 20 February 2020, 00:48

Hi Emily! I suppose what I would first suggest is that you could talk to him about why you enjoy drag acts. Perhaps if he learned more about your perspective, he'd ultimately turn out to be less uncomfortable.

The weirder part of me wants to say that, whatever your opinion, drag is, to a certain extent, meant to make people slightly uncomfortable, to shake them up a bit. Please see my somewhat tongue in cheek current signature for further clarification. :P
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby René » 20 February 2020, 07:48

As a gay guy who is attracted to guys, I am seriously put off when a guy puts on women's clothes and make-up and a silly high-pitched voice. I just like guys to be normal, to look like guys and sound like guys. I don't go for the weird stuff :P

I have to add that I grew up in a loving household in Holland, one of the most progressive places in the world, where same-sex marriage has been legal for almost 20 years and homophobia is rare, I had no exposure to homophobia at all while growing up, and I came out as gay when I was 14 and started multiple websites (including this one) to give gay/bi people a place to chat, make friends and get support when they need it. I've also been married to a man for almost 10 years now. Clearly there isn't a homophobic bone in my body, internalised or otherwise.
But as I see it, that has nothing at all to do with not being grossed/weirded out by drag. There is nothing gay about drag. Gay is what you get when a guy is attracted to a guy or a girl is attracted to a girl. Where does dressing up like the other sex come into it? It makes no sense to me whatsoever.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Frigid » 20 February 2020, 19:38

Drag is a form of entertainment. Just as with other forms of entertainment there can be elements which people are inclined to dislike. I’m repulsed by reality TV.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Magic J » 20 February 2020, 20:59

Frigid wrote:Drag is a form of entertainment. Just as with other forms of entertainment there can be elements which people are inclined to dislike. I’m repulsed by reality TV.

I started off watching Love Island ironically. Now I sit here with my chardonnay straight up relishing that demented drama.

Love Island: Not Even Once. I urge you all not to make the mistakes I did.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Eryx » 21 February 2020, 16:00

Just show him a bunch of RuPaul episodes. I don't get how people can be against it either, it's just fun.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby René » 21 February 2020, 16:10

Eryx wrote:I don't get how people can be against it either, it's just fun.

I want to be clear that I'm not necessarily saying it shouldn't exist or that it's an invalid form of entertainment, just that it isn't for me. :P
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Brenden » 21 February 2020, 16:14

Eryx wrote:I don't get how people can be against it either, it's just fun.

I could understand why a feminist woman might be against it. Drag is a ridiculously exaggerated parody of women and femininity. It's gender appropriation.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby rxxli » 21 February 2020, 16:17

Yeah, I agree with René. I don’t like drag for some reason. I don’t mind people doing it, I just don’t want to watch it.

So I personally wouldn’t make a big deal out of this. Just because the guy doesn’t like drag it doesn’t mean that he is homophobic or anything else.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Magic J » 21 February 2020, 16:27

Brenden wrote:
Eryx wrote:I don't get how people can be against it either, it's just fun.

I could understand why a feminist woman might be against it. Drag is a ridiculously exaggerated parody of women and femininity. It's gender appropriation.

Certain strands, yeah. I'm led to understand that Rad Fems generally aren't keen on it, and they give this sort of justification for that.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Brenden » 21 February 2020, 16:35

As much as I typically detest feminists, they've got a point:
The Am I The Asshole (AITA) has a new thread that perfectly illustrates how icky/gross drag is when you sit down and think about it and realize how misogynistic it actually is. When you stop thinking about it as nameless men dressing up as nameless women so that is harmless fun...it becomes perfectly clear when you insert real women into it. This thread involves a mother who had a cherished wedding dress she loves and preserved. She passed it down to her daughter who also loved and cherished it to and wore it to her wedding in a lovely tradition. Now the gay son is getting married, will be wearing matching tuxes to the wedding. Great. But now he wants to do a drag show performance at the wedding reception where he dresses up as a bride and mocks bridezillas and does a caricature of brides in their big dresses with hair and makeup and look how silly and stupid women are, isn’t it all a laugh? AND HE WANTS TO WEAR HIS MOTHERS BELOVED WEDDING DRESS TO DO IT. Basically openly mocking his mother AND sister, mocking their dress, the way they look and act. The most hateful and disgusting misogynistic “performance” - and how does anyone find this funny or entertaining? Tell me again how drag isn’t problematic?
Drag is gender blackface.
Drag is inherent mockery of women.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Magic J » 21 February 2020, 17:23

To be clear, though, the regular posters on r/gendercritical aren't representative of feminist discourse as a whole, and instead represent a particularly radical faction within it.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Brenden » 21 February 2020, 17:44

Yeah, I know, but I still think the analogy with blackface holds water, and I don't think it's a particularly radical notion that men dressing up as exaggerated parodies of women is… *cringe* problematic.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Magic J » 21 February 2020, 18:04

One could argue that the bold, offensive, and defiant image that drag queens generally adopt is a celebration of women who are the same, and who don't conform to what society expects of them. Certainly, the obsession with women perceived to be strong and independent in the culture might suggest great admiration.

I really haven't thought to much about it, though. I shall seek opinions widely.:D
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Brenden » 21 February 2020, 18:18

But doesn't society expect women to wear lots of makeup and high-heels and all that BS? For instance, in work settings. Many feminists argue that sort of sexualised dress code for women is imposed by society (the so-called "patriarchy", although I'd argue often it's other women who police women's appearances more than men), not willingly adopted by strong and independent women.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Magic J » 21 February 2020, 18:37

That debate seems to get to the heart of a lot of friction between older Marxist or Radical feminists and the more recent Intersectional feminists. The old guard often tend to see this sort of thing as an imposition by a hostile society, whether it is imposed by men, or by women who have "false consciousness" in that they've adopted the worldview of their oppressors, and thus perpetuate their own oppression. The new more often focus more on the individual's free choice to wear, act, and be however they want.

Myself, I can see good points in both perspectives. I tend to think of things with one eye to Marx, but I'm also pretty repulsed by the whole idea of "false consciousness". Or rather, I believe that whilst people can be led into perpetuating their own oppression, they also have to be allowed latitude to do that, to an extent, since they are free individuals with whom I won't talk down to, since that's a matter of respecting them and their personal choices, regardless of how free they were to make them. I can prod and argue, but I won't call them "brainwashed". Because that'd be wrong. :P

I suppose I always thought that drag wasn't specifically and exclusively about men trying to imitate women, but rather to self-consciously subvert expectations around gender and how we are expected to "perform" it.
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby GaySpacePirateKing » 21 February 2020, 20:40

Brenden wrote:Yeah, I know, but I still think the analogy with blackface holds water, and I don't think it's a particularly radical notion that men dressing up as exaggerated parodies of women is… *cringe* problematic.


I think when on the one hand you say you detest feminism then on the other that drag is like blackface, that you might not be coming from as concerned a view as you might think.

Easy from our perspective as cisgendered males to regard it as a mockery of woman, but how would gender queer people and women that enjoy or dress in drag feel about it?
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Re: My boyfriend is uncomfortable with drag - what do I do ?

Unread postby Derek » 21 February 2020, 20:46

GaySpacePirateKing wrote:I think when on the one hand you say you detest feminism then on the other that drag is like blackface, that you might not be coming from as concerned a view as you might think.

And how.
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