‘Drag is political’: A brief history of drag’s political nature amid ‘Drag Den Philippines’ buzz

December 16, 2022 - 2:00 PM
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Cast members of "Drag Den Philippines" during the premiere night on December 7, 2022 (Facebook/Drag Den Philippines)

“Drag is political.”

Gabriela Party-list expressed this in agreement to a tweet from “Drag Den Philippines” cast member Sassa Gurl about the latest episode of the local drag competition.

“Drag Den Philippines” is a drag reality series that premiered last December 8 via Amazon Prime.

On December 15, during the airing of its second episode, Sassa Gurl, the show’s “drag runner,” reacted to a tweet from a viewer who perceived the show as “too political.”

“Ako lang ba or #DragDenPh is too political? I love this show and I’m aware that drag is indeed political – yet somehow I feel they’re pushing it too hard and too early,” the Twitter user wrote.

The user tweeted this as a quote-retweet to the promotional video trailer of the second episode of “Drag Den Philippines” which was released on December 13.

The theme of the episode is “Drag Den Pinoy Comedy.”

Sassa Gurl later responded to the Twitter user and said that “everything is political.”

“Too political? Everything is political,” the TikTok creator tweeted.

RELATED: Ex-flight attendant turned TikTok creator draws flak over ‘not everything is political’ view 

Sassa Gurl’s tweet garnered 2,477 retweets, 176 quote-retweets and 21,900 likes so far. It also caught the attention of Gabriela.

The women’s rights group agreed and said: “Drag is political.”

“Drag Den Philippines” has been making buzz on social media before its premiere.

Eight drag queens will compete for the title of the first-ever “Filipino Drag Supreme.”

The panel of judges comprises Manila Luzon (runner-up of the third season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”) as the main host and judge, Nicole Cordoves (Miss Grand International Philippines 2016), and Catriona Gray (Miss Universe 2018).

READ: ‘Drag Den’ theme song, music video drop ahead of show premiere | ‘Well represented’: Fans praise ‘Drag Den Philippines’ for chosen cast members 

Political nature of drag

Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, co-founders of the “World of Wonder” channel and DragCon (drag conference), said in an interview that drag becomes political in an environment that imposes “reductive” ideas about gender.

Bailey and Barbato are also executive producers of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

“Because as playful and as fun as drag can and will always be, it can also be serious fun, by playing with society’s norms in a very profound way,” they were quoted as saying in a Vox report.

“And drag only becomes more pointedly political in an environment where an illegitimate regime seeks — picking just one example — to impose reductive and cruel ideas about gender that fly in the face of gender’s proven complexity,” they added.

It should be noted that the history of drag as an art form is not political at first.

An article from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) attributed the origins of “drag” to the period of William Shakespeare when men performed female roles by men.

The culture of drag queens that people know today, meanwhile, developed through vaudeville of the 1900s.

Vaudeville is a genre of theater where different acts provide light entertainment to audiences. These acts comprise dancers, singers, jugglers, comedians and other types of entertainers.

The integration of politics into drag can be traced to the 1970s and 1980s when a group of performers called The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence used religious imagery and heavy makeup as they protest and organize in San Francisco.

The organization is still active at present.

Drag queens have since became part of historical and political events in different parts of the world, including the Philippines.