I should go to a Drag Queen Story Hour because my mind is still tempted to put people into categories, and this will give my mind a jolt.
Sometimes there is no word to express a certain category; for example, the word transgender doesn’t exist in my 1969 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary. drag in this sense is there under “slang”, but not Drag Queen. Is there a term for a woman dressing in men’s clothes? Probably not, because we do that almost every day. It wasn’t always so. My great-grandmother was an actress who got her photograph on the front page of the Brooklyn Eagle for riding a bicycle wearing bloomers. Scandalous! Drag Queens are still stereotypes to me, and a stereotype is “ term which has little or no productivity.” I want to sail past the empty word and get a sense of the person behind it. Getting used to a Drag Queen will open my mind to a lot of other versions of humanity, too.
A friend in Seattle told me about a friend whose ex-husband died suddenly, leaving her to clear out his apartment. She found a closet full of women’s clothes in a size that would have fit her ex-husband. She had no frame of reference as she tried to absorb this discovery. Was he gay? A transvestite? Was he transgender? Was he cross-dressing for fun? Or was it something he really needed? The confusion led to a mixture of disdain and ridicule on the part of his ex-wife, and dumbfounded astonishment on the part of my friend. I had little to add to the discussion, but I now note that we were focusing on our own reactions, not the man involved. He must have suffered holding this secret inside. Who had gained from his hiding of important aspects of himself?
Welcoming the physical appearance and idiosyncrasies of other people leads to surprises, some good and some bad. Last week, I asked my veterinarian how his mastiffs were, and he told me that they had both been blinded within a matter of hours by eating the white feathery tops of dandelions. I know someone who can tell you instantly how many letters there are in a sentence. “Come over here right away” “Twenty-one.” Isn’t that interesting? My particular talent is that I can wiggle my ears. Getting past the general to the specific in other people’s lives make all of life more interesting. If the specifics involve gender and sexual preferences, so what? Why not learn more, thus lessening by one the things to be afraid of?
I’m going to check out a few local libraries to see if any of them have a Drag Queen Story Hour. I wonder if they let adults in. Will they think I’m a pervert? Whatever that is.