Drag Show and Pride Prom Challenge Gender Roles

Photo by Grace Maute

Friday’s Drag Show and Pride Prom blurred the lines of masculine and feminine conventions in sky-high wigs and sparkling dresses. Co-sponsored by Ramapo Pride, the Women’s Center, the Diversity Action Committee, the Black Student Union, the College Programming Board, Mu Sigma Upsilon and Chi Upsilon Sigma, the second annual drag show, followed by the Pride Prom, brought back drag queens Peppermint and All Beef Patty for a night of singing, dancing and subverted gender norms.

Pride Prom is an annual semiformal event with food, dancing and prizes, similar to any high school prom. This year’s theme was “Queers in Outer Space.” The Pride Prom is put on to create a comfortable, affirming space for anyone who may not have been able to attend or enjoy their own prom due to restricting gender norms and stereotypes.

“A lot of people who go to their prom don’t get to bring who they want or dress how they want, or even express themselves in the way that they would want,” said Erin Healy, president of Ramapo Pride. “So we’re here to have a second chance prom, for everyone to come in and be themselves and enjoy the night in any way they would like to.”

Kicking off the night, however, was the drag show. Peppermint and All Beef Patty are both a part of Screaming Queens, a boutique entertainment company that provides drag queens and other cabaret artists for parties and events. The two queens took turns singing and dancing to songs like “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner, “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars and “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi. They also prompted a runway contest between members of the audience.

The performance was followed by a question and answer session with Peppermint and All Beef Patty. After a number of lighter questions, like what their favorite songs to perform are and what celebrity they would like to do drag with, the conversation gave way to a more serious discussion about gender stereotypes.

“This is one of the few jobs that could tie in with, not only your sexuality, but your lifestyle and a whole other realm of things that people would assume about who you are just by how you dress … No one says, 'is your family supportive of you being a doctor?'” said Peppermint when asked if her family is supportive of her career.

All Beef Patty and Peppermint both live in New York City and have been supporting themselves by doing drag for over 12 years. All Beef Patty identifies as a man and Peppermint as a woman, giving the audience two different perspectives on drag.

“I’m a man. To me drag is costume and theater, so if someone uses the pronoun ‘he’ instead of ‘she’ while I’m in costume I don’t get offended,” said All Beef Patty. “There are queens that prefer ‘she’ when they’re in drag and I understand. I don’t care either way, for me. I’m not fooling anybody. I’m not an illusionist. I’m more of a delusionist.”

The queens also spoke about being ridiculed or threatened because of their career or the way they identify.

“Usually when someone is threatening in some way, you can tell that that person has an issue that has nothing to do with the drag queen or the gay person or the trans person or the bi person, or anybody who doesn’t fit into the gender norm that they think,” Peppermint said.

While both agreed that they typically have positive experiences with people while in drag, deviating from social norms can open a person up to criticism. Their response is to rise above the hate.

“No one under any circumstance wants to be made fun of. It doesn’t feel right … It hurts, no matter what you are, whether you’re a drag queen or you’re gay or you’re black or you’re white, whatever it is, it sucks,” said All Beef Patty. “You just have to move on and realize that you’re a better person for it.”