What a drag it is, being a drag scold

I have not ever been, to the best of my recollection, to a drag show. Excepting the fact that our entire Western culture, and the cultures of everywhere else, are positively filled with stories and depictions of cross-dressing in our literature, movies, songs — “Lola,” anyone? — whether for comedic effect or … I don’t know, because it’s there.

More on which in a bit.

Our current American culture is seemingly obsessed with drag, and while I think that’s fine, it’s just not something that has caught my fancy. I am aware, for instance, that there may be a person called RuPaul, and I believe that they may have starred in or are still starring in a television show that may be called “Drag Race,” but I wouldn’t recognize them walking down the street.

Except I believe that they are an exceedingly tall person, and that, yes, it might be a hoot to see them walking down said street in high heels.

Before the last few months in this big old world, I would simply say of drag to each their own, and wish drag all the best.

What has recently caught my eye, of course, began with the tragedy that was the targeting of a drag night by that mass shooter who mowed them down in a Colorado Springs gay bar. Absolutely horrific. And so central to a certain awful part of our culture today: Guns! Let them have guns, and bear them. But bars featuring drag shows? They must be shot up.

Then, to add insult to homicidal injury, perverse legislators in states including Idaho and Texas, and a gabby governor from Florida, are so ginned up about the perceived dangers of guys putting on a dress that they want to pass laws against it, as if drag were the problem with America.

One bill proposed this month in Arizona would make it a misdemeanor to put on a drag performance in a public place, Bloomberg reports. “The change would classify drag as an ‘adult cabaret performance’ similar to topless dancers or strippers, according to the bill text.”

In Grecian times, not to mention Shakeseperian times, that would have eliminated theater entirely, as all characters on stage regardless of their sex were played by men.

In our own time, think of the movies we have enjoyed in which cross-dressing is the main gag. Tony Curtis in “Some Like it Hot.” Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie.” Robin Williams in “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

And television: Milton Berle, TV’s biggest star in the 1940s and early ‘50s — he was on the cover of Newsweek in 1949 dressed as Carmen Miranda. Flip Wilson’s Geraldine Jones in the ‘70s, with her boyfriend, “Killer.” Tom Hanks in “Bosom Buddies.” Jamie Farr as Corporal Klinger on “MASH.”

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Much of the tut-tutting seems to arise out of a desire to protect the children from men in tights, skirts, other get-ups at drag storytelling hours at libraries. Someone called Lil Miss Hot Mess told Bloomberg that events like story hours are “reading books to children, encouraging them to use their imagination to envision a more just and fabulous world.”  Who would have a problem with that?

Scolds who in a time of economic turmoil, lousy inflation, a dangerous war in Ukraine, worldwide pandemic and government tyrannies on the left and on the right believe that passing laws against drag shows is what a legislator should be doing, that’s who.

It’s sick. Way sicker than dudes in dresses. It’s about “this long-term lie that somehow drag queens and trans people are dangerous to kids. Kids love costumes and they love imagination and creativity,” as a Tennessee LGBTQ activist says.

It’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world, except for Lola. Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo-Lola.

 Larry Wilson is on the Southern California News Group editorial board.

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