opinion

'Dating as a drag queen is a total drag'

Finding a boyfriend in drag is a nightmare - and fragile masculinity is to blame, writes Amrou Al-Kadhi

2018-06-29

This article first appeared in Attitude issue 296, June 2018

I hate to admit this, but it was only this year that I put a photo of myself in drag on Tinder.

I’m ashamed it took me so long, as my drag alter-ego, Glamrou, is a significant expression of my identity and heritage. And while drag has given me so much self-love, to be honest, I was scared about putting it on a dating app.

The facts help to explain why: ever since the drag pic announced itself on Tinder, I’ve had a drastic drop in matches (about 70 per cent, I’d say). The brighter the eye shadow, the lower the dick count. A depressing formula.

What is it about drag that turns gay men off? To answer this, here are three stories of men I’ve dated who hated my drag.

“IT’S INTIMIDATING.”

Masculinity is a fragile, volatile thing. Men who are protective of their masculinity — as one man was — cannot stand having it questioned, let alone challenged.

As an effeminate person, I’ve often been seen as inferior by men in my life. Drag, however, subverts being feminine from something seen as socially weak into something powerful.

The man who said I intimidated him couldn’t get over the confidence I had when I was more female-presenting.

The hideous entitlement he inherited because of his masculinity had been challenged by my female confidence. And so he dumped me. B - A - S - I - C. 

“I FANCY MEN, NOT WOMEN.”

The sheer stupidity of this one still gets me. I was dating a guy for a few months. He knew I was a drag queen, although he’d never seen me in drag. We laughed a lot, and we were having mind-blowing sex. Then I invited him to my drag show.

Afterwards he kept saying, “I prefer you as a man. I fancy men, not women.”

When we tried to have sex that night, he said he felt turned off. We broke up soon after.

The tragic finale represents the heinous misogyny of some gay men. Too many cisgender gay men form “men-only” woman-hating tribes as a way to re-privilege their masculinity. My femininity was not welcome at the sausage party.

“IT’S TOO MUCH FOR ME.”

Man number three was beautiful, hilarious and disarmingly charming. He had a bit of a perfect lot in life: accepting parents, a great job, and racial and cisgender privilege — a total Prince Charming.

The problem was he was “winning” so much at life, he couldn’t handle society perceiving him as “losing” in any way.

Drag embraces “failure” and celebrates being a queer, non-conformist. It relishes being a loser. For someone who had such a winning streak in life, he didn’t want to date someone who could make him seem as if he’d lost.

 Say it with me, Man Number Three: THINK FOR YOURSELF.

Drag is powerful, drag is unsettling, and drag is challenging. Toxic masculinity is constantly asserting its power, is vicious when unsettled, and incapable of being challenged.

All in all, it’s a bad romance.

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