Social norms, what a drag: gender, sexuality, and drag king communities

Gouweloos, Julie
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University of Guelph

This research seeks to understand how drag king performers characterise and give meaning to kinging communities. I examine the ways performers conceptualise and symbolically manage their gender and sexual identities on and off stage. Moreover, I analyse the ways in which kings envision their identities in relation to dominant gender and sexuality norms. My field observation and in-depth interview data indicates that kings are a more heterogeneous group than contemporary scholarship suggests. In fact, kings perform for a variety of reasons and are stylistically diverse. The data also indicates that kinging communities are hierarchically organised resulting in discrimination against transgender and racial/ethnic minority kings. I conclude with the argument that identity construction occurs in relation to interconnected social structures and performers conceptualise and manage their identities within these structures. Moreover, many of these kings envision this identity management as a mechanism for deconstructing hegemonic gender and sexuality.

drag king performers, kinging communities, performers, gender, sexual identities, gender norms, sexuality norm, identity construction, identity management