What a Drag 3/10/23

Opinion with Richard Bleil

The indoctrination began early with me. Grown men, in very public displays of cross-dressing crossed my path perhaps even before my memory kicked in. I was probably only six or seven years old, and very well may have shaped me for the rest of my life. The perverse man who exposed me to the art of cross-dressing was, of course, Harvey Korman, in his character in the Carol Burnett Show. Then there was Flip Wilson, and from overseas, the entire male cast of Monty Python. Before then, the concept was raised with Bugs Bunny. Tom Hanks got in on the act with his early role in the television series, “Bosom Buddies”, not to mention outright homosexuality in Three’s Company.

And NOW people are concerned about drag queens?

By today’s standards, these early made-for-television jokes should be offensive. We were basically taught to laugh at cross dressers, but they pervaded our societal conscious anyway. In the movie Wayne’s World, it’s very possible that the greatest fear of opponents of cross dressers was raised when Garth asked Wayne if he was ever attracted to Bugs when he dressed like a “girl-rabbit”. The irony still makes me laugh when yet another anti-homosexual bible-thumping “man of the cloth” is caught in a scandal with another man.

Homosexuality, with which cross-dressing is often incorrectly associated, is still a major fear in our society. I have no idea where this fear arises. Perhaps it’s because procreation is not possible with a same-gender partner without the help of an external egg or sperm donor, but even today it’s not uncommon for parents to insist “not my child”. Churches continue to preach a doctrine of fear for those who act outside of the heterosexual norm, and peers (especially in school) contribute through bullying and teasing. I was never homosexual, and yet I’ve endured my share of shame and bullying because I am not exactly “masculine”, either. To this day, I do not know if my detractors actually believed (or secretly hoped) that I was gay, or if they simply used the term as a generic insult. I can tell you that now, although rare, when I am hit with an equivalent insult, I don’t correct the hurler of the slander. I just smile, and walk away, proud to be associated with my brothers and sisters even if mistakenly.

Let’s be honest, and fearlessly face the cold, brutal truth. Anti-LGBTQ+ laws, anti-drag legislation, anti-homosexual speeches are all veiled actions of bigots. They’re the actions of those with irrational fears, and they should be ashamed of themselves. We are all just people, and if that person over there is not hurting me or anybody else, who am I to dictate their life? Yes, those who might argue the counterpoint might say that same gender relationships or cross-dressing does harm society and others, but it doesn’t.

When I was just learning to write, we were told to pick up our pencils in our right hand. If we used our left hand, we were corrected, dammit, and taught to use the correct hand. This harms people who are naturally left-handed, causing them to learn handwriting with their less dexterous hand and leading to poor handwriting, creating a struggle to overcome the curse of illegibility. Our society is still doing that for sexual orientation. We still teach people that being attracted to others of the same gender is somehow wrong, and correct such abhorrent behavior creating a stress in the lives of those who might not understand why their feelings are different from what they have been taught. Indoctrination begins when we are children, with every advertisement that throws sexual imagery of half-naked women at us, but it’s not by the drag queens. It’s by the heterosexuals. It’s by big business.

Every time I hear somebody insist that they don’t want their children “indoctrinated” by being exposed to drag queens, I keep wondering what is happening with that child’s indoctrination of tolerance and acceptance for other people. Is America really all about conformity, the right to be exactly like everybody else? A nation of fear of anything different? I don’t understand cross-dressing, but that’s because it’s not something that appeals to me. That doesn’t mean that I cannot accept that others find it appealing even to the point of participation. Are you afraid of your child attending a library event with a cross dresser? Then attend with the children. Answer any questions your child might have, but you’ll see that the group leader doesn’t discuss anything inappropriate. If they do, and they are present next week, then you can complain.


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