Free Pride Glasgow says no drag


Glasgow’s free Pride festival says no drag performances. Free Pride is a new event, set up in response to Glasgow Pride’s charging for tickets, having been turned down for public funding.

At Free Pride we hope to create a safe space for all people within the LGBTQIA+ community. We understand that sometimes this will disappoint some people within the community, however our priority is always to put the needs of the most marginalised groups within our community first.

Sometimes it will disappoint some people within the community? Why? Do some people within the community want an unsafe space?

Or maybe it’s that “a safe space” isn’t exactly the right thing to hope to create, or at least not exclusively. For a lot of people “a safe space” is one that has only straight people in it, after all. Gay pride has always been rowdy and raunchy and Dionysian, proudly so – that’s always been part of the point. I’m not sure wanting to create “a safe space” is compatible with that.

This is why, after much discussion, the trans and non binary caucus decided not to have drag acts perform at the event. This does not mean that people of any gender can’t wear what they want to the event, we simply won’t be having any self-described drag acts perform at our Free Pride Event on the 22nd August.

Um…so no more playing around with gender, now it’s either trans or cis?

Is that really a good idea?

The decision was taken by transgender individuals who were uncomfortable with having drag performances at the event. It was felt that it would make some of those who were transgender or questioning their gender uncomfortable. It was felt by the group within the Trans/Non Binary Caucus that some drag performance, particularly cis drag, hinges on the social view of gender and making it into a joke, however transgender individuals do not feel as though their gender identity is a joke.

So there you go then. The answer is yes: no more playing around with gender. No more mocking it, no more teasing it, no more parodying it.

Is that really a good idea?

We would like to reaffirm that this is not to say that we do not want gender expression, which we do encourage, at our event. We encourage everyone to wear what they want and express their gender however they please! There will be no policing of peoples gender identity.

Except for no drag. There will be no frivolous performance of gender, there will be only serious expression of gender.

Safety first eh.

Comments

  1. Jean says

    If the criterion for a safe space is that no one is uncomfortable then wouldn’t it be difficult to do any event that would be truly inclusive of the entire LGBTQIA+ community? But since I’m not part of that community I’m likely quite clueless and I know I’m not that knowledgeable of what constitute a safe space.

    Also, there’s a typo: I assume you meant Dionysian not Dionsyian.

  2. says

    Jean, yes, I think it would be. And I’m not part of that community either but I’m pretty gender-nonconforming plus I have an opinion, so that will have to do.

    Thanks for the typo note. Yup that’s what I meant all right.

  3. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Fuck this. Fuck it all to hell. This is the precise opposite of radical queer politics; it’s not liberatory, it’s a reinforcement.

  4. johnthedrunkard says

    Unfortunately, for every Faux news blowhard whinging about ‘PC’ censorship…there is some off the rails crap like this.

    Who is to ‘not police’ the ‘not policers?’

  5. Ian Rennie says

    I think there might be a misreading here.

    Unless I’m missing something, this isn’t about who can attend the event. As the article says “This does not mean that people of any gender can’t wear what they want to the event”. This doesn’t mean that people have to be trans or cis, as is evidenced by the event having a non-binary caucus.

    All it means, unless I’m getting this wrong, is that they won’t be booking drag acts to perform at the event.

    People in drag can show up: ” We encourage everyone to wear what they want and express their gender however they please! There will be no policing of peoples gender identity.” it’s just that there won’t be a drag show as part of the entertainment. If Marcus did turn up in a tie-dye burque, Marcus would be welcomed with open arms.

  6. Z says

    So there you go then. The answer is yes: no more playing around with gender. No more mocking it, no more teasing it, no more parodying it.

    Is that really a good idea?

    You might be interested in this forum. 😀

  7. Freodin says

    Well, one could argue that drag in a transgender-including setting is similar to blackface in a afro-american heritage parade.

  8. says

    Well, one could argue that drag in a transgender-including setting is similar to blackface in a afro-american heritage parade.

    Why would that apply in a transgender-including setting but not in a woman-including setting?

  9. Z says

    “This is like objecting to blackface on the grounds that it makes Rachel Dolezal feel uncomfortable.”

    Wait, did I fail at parsing this or did you just endorse a comparison of transgender people to Rachel Dolezal? O.o And I thought I was just joking when I linked to the TERF subreddit…

  10. says

    Ophelia, I’m turning it over and over and I can’t see any other interpretation than what #18 said.

    So.

    I recall not long ago you were wondering – angrily and indignantly – why some people thought your views on trans women were problematic verging on phobic?

    It’s this kind of thing right here.

  11. elephantasy says

    What bothers me about the quote in #15 is the comparison of blackface to drag shows. I have lots of negative reactions to blackface, none whatsoever to drag shows, trans people, or Rachel Dolezal. I can’t really think of a “race” equivalent to drag shows, although some of the skits of some black comedians such as Key and Peele might come close. I suspect the reference to Dolezal works fine for those who accept the idea of someone identifying as black who isn’t otherwise accepted as black, and who think Dolezal honestly identifies that way, which I do, but the reference doesn’t work for those who think Dolezal is lying. Given the large number of people who feel the latter way, the reference was a poor choice.

    All in all, I see the point, but I think the analogy was clumsy in a number of ways and perhaps was not worth repeating. I assume it was an off-the-cuff remark that seemed somewhat amusing at the time.

  12. Silentbob says

    @ 15 Ophelia Benson

    Yeah, sorry to be blunt; your friend’s a bigot. They are implying trans people don’t exist, that trans women are men in drag. That’s offensive, like calling homosexuality a disorder, or a debauched “lifestyle”.

    For the record, I think the ban on drag is silly, but that’s because gender presentation is arbitrary. In other words, dresses and make-up and heels and shit are only characteristic of women because society says so. Men in drag aren’t mocking women, they’re fucking with society’s conventions.

  13. says

    Ugh. That IS a bad analogy. I hope your friend rethinks it. It does have a certain WTFery that might give it some off-the-cuff appeal, but doesn’t survive a more detailed look.

    AFAIK drag has never before been seen as anti-trans. There was some argument in the 70s & 80s that it was like blackface for women, and that was a much easier case to argue. Insufficiently nuanced, but there was at least a point. When you separate the drag performers who are performing femininity in a subversive manner from the comedians who are performing femininity in order to make women the butt of their jokes, it becomes much more obvious.

  14. Silentbob says

    @ 22 Ophelia Benson

    I didn’t call your friend a bigot because it occurred to me, or because that’s what you’re here for. It was a characterisation based on reported attitude. I’ll withdraw, “your friend’s a bigot” and replace it with, “your friend said an insensitive, disparaging, offensive thing that promotes the stigmatisation of a persecuted minority”.

    I hope you’ll understand “everyday transphobia” is no less deserving of calling out than everyday sexism. I don’t know who your friend is, for all I know they’re otherwise a wonderful person, but if so, this was their “Tim Hunt moment”.

    I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. :-(

  15. Freodin says

    @14 Ophelia Benson

    Why would that apply in a transgender-including setting but not in a woman-including setting?

    Valid question. My answer: of course it would (could). I just tried to stay within the scope of the article, which especially mentioned the feelings of transgenders. (BTW: the parade wants to ban ‘drag’, not just dragqueens, so it would be an equally valid question: what about a man-including setting?)

    And what if non-trans women were feeling that drag was making fun of them? That seemed to be the (potential) problem here:
    “It was felt by the group within the Trans/Non Binary Caucus that some drag performance, particularly cis drag, hinges on the social view of gender and making it into a joke…”
    Can we just tell those who feel that way that they don’t get it, that it isn’t a joke but just “fucking with society’s conventions”?

  16. says

    Freodin @ 26 – Yes but this is exactly my point. Some drag actually is pretty irritating to feminists, yet this group didn’t even mention that.

    (“Some” drag meaning the kind that seems to be mocking women as opposed to mocking gender conventions.)

  17. elephantasy says

    Re #27, yes, I had not quite caught that #15 was a follow-on from #12 and #14. Apologies.

  18. says

    I find it very telling that women have been muttering for ages, on and off, that drag is or contains elements insulting to women. Women are parodied, belittled, made into the punchline yet again, femininity is simultaneously laughed at and reinforced, and no one has been interested in the effects of being lampooned on us. All of a sudden, those who were born male decide that this kind of performance seems like it is parodying them and it is banned. I suspect this tells us a great deal about who has power. It isn’t women.

  19. says

    #28:

    ‘Mentioning blackface’ was not the problem. In #12 the trans women were compared to a legitimately outraged community. In #15 they were instead compared to someone being disingenuous because they were ALSO in blackface but pretending not to be.

    The problem is the delegitimization of trans women. Do you not see how this is different? #12 was not transphobic. #15 was.

  20. Z says

    @ 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25 – did you all miss Freodin’s comment @ 12? It’s Freodin who brought up blackface; I was responding to that.

    Umm, I got that the first time. Scanning the responses, I think only elephantasy explicitly took issue with the blackface part. My point was about the comparison with Rachel Dolezal, and I assume this also applies to most other complains.

    The conversation after comment #12:

    12. Freodin says
    July 19, 2015 at 3:37 am
    Well, one could argue that drag in a transgender-including setting is similar to blackface in a afro-american heritage parade.

    13. robertbaden says
    July 19, 2015 at 7:12 am
    “Fucking Humorless”

    Where have I heard that before?

    14. Ophelia Benson says
    July 19, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Well, one could argue that drag in a transgender-including setting is similar to blackface in a afro-american heritage parade.

    Why would that apply in a transgender-including setting but not in a woman-including setting?

    15. Ophelia Benson says
    July 19, 2015 at 10:12 am

    A friend of mine remarked yesterday that “This is like objecting to blackface on the grounds that it makes Rachel Dolezal feel uncomfortable.”

    Your answer extends the analogy and it’s very easy to read it as “objecting to drag in a transgender-including setting is like objecting to blackface on the grounds that it makes Rachel Dolezal feel uncomfortable”, equating trans people to Rachel Dolezal. That’s why I asked whether I was parsing it right. Because it’s difficult to me to imagine another way it can be parsed.

    Now, you may not be aware of it, but ever since its reveal, Dolezal’s case has been used to attack the existence of transgender people. For example, here’s a post by Elizabeth Scalia, Catholic editor at Patheos, and there is quite a lot more like that where it comes from. And even if you are unaware of that, as a feminist you are supposed to know enough about trans issues to understand that such a comparison is… problematic.

  21. elephantasy says

    Re #31, “someone being disingenuous because they were ALSO in blackface but pretending not to be”

    I don’t know Ophelia’s view on Dolezal, nor do I know her friend’s, but certainly your description of Dolezal does not mesh with mine, and that’s kind of important. I see Dolezal as someone who genuinely considered, perhaps still considers, herself black. I am largely supportive of her doing so.

    I can understand finding the analogy horrible if the right hand side is “someone who lied and pretended to be something she clearly is not”. The analogy works better if the right side is “someone who genuinely identifies in a way that differs significantly from the way she is viewed by others”.

  22. says

    [Edited – OB]

    Also, in the off chance #31 is listening… the re are several differences:

    1) Society does not CONFLATE cis women and drag acts. There’s plenty to unpack about how drag acts treat femininity, but there is no case where cis women are mistaken for or expected to conform to the marked performance standards of drag acts. Trans women, conversely, are conflated with drag queens all the time, often deliberately and maliciously.

    2) Drag acts often appear to get their cachet from mocking the idea of an AMAB person performing femininity or a woman’s role (certainly this is exactly what the panto dame is all about; dedicated drag shows are more complex). AFAB people do not enter into it.

    3) This is about a queer event. Traditionally, drag is (primarily and culturally) a gay male phenomenon. Only a small percentage of cis women (lesbians, bi, etc.) are under the ‘queer’ umbrella, whereas ALL trans people are. Trans people are the most marginalized part of the LGBT community, whereas most cis women are *not* part of it. Thus, it makes far more sense for a queer event to worry about alienating its own most marginalized members rather than a huge demographic that is mostly not queer.

    These are the reasons it’s more relevant now

  23. Freodin says

    @28 Ophelia Benson

    Yes but this is exactly my point. Some drag actually is pretty irritating to feminists, yet this group didn’t even mention that.
    (“Some” drag meaning the kind that seems to be mocking women as opposed to mocking gender conventions.)

    I am not sure I can follow you.
    Isn’t that exactly what the article mentioned as the reason for this… exclusion?

    “It was felt by the group within the Trans/Non Binary Caucus that some drag performance, particularly cis drag, hinges on the social view of gender and making it into a joke…”

    Some drag. Making it into a joke. All there.

    Do you think that, while there are serious issues about exactly this question that need to be adressed, this group did take it too serious and in that missed adressing the real questions?

  24. says

    In response to #36

    100% of lesbians are lgbti, axiomatically, and we are women. I think that makes the way in which drag belittles women a legitimate issue for the community, now and always. Again, the fact that this has not been considered relevant or sufficient speaks to a profound cultural misogyny which does not magically stop at the boundaries of the community but is rife throughout it.

    Also, I really debate the “most marginalised” frame – the oppression Olympics is not overly productive, even if you accept the ranking you argue. I’d add sex based oppression to the argument, with everything from female infanticide, FGM, child marriages to systemic rights removals and subjection to male violence against women, namely high levels of abuse, rape and murder at the hands of partners, family and friends. This affects women and girls on a world wide basis.

    Let’s not play the “who has it worse” game. It’s not a zero sum game and I don’t see how it’s relevant to the drag debate.

    We are over 50% of the world community and still our concerns are not regarded seriously, not in the broader community and not in the LGBTI community.

    The stereotype used by drag is one that was imposed on women and is also used to laugh at us. What you are objecting to transwomen being conflated with is ABOUT US.

  25. says

    #38: I didn’t I said the MESSAGE was pure TERF. Also, TERF is not a slur or ‘a name’ to call people, and claiming it *is* is itself a transphobic talking point. Editing that out of my post in order to protect the feelings of someone who may be called this thing suggests disturbingly that you are invested in the feelings of, well, TERFs.

    This is another thing that makes folks suspect you are one yourself, Ophelia. Your stances regarding trans women continue to be problematic. Were you at any point planning to protect the feelings of any trans women who might be offended at being compared to Rachel Dolezal, or only of the people who might be offended at having their politics accurately described as being Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist?

    #39: I see you’ve chosen not to listen at all. “Most marginalized” was from Free Pride’s statement in the OP, and is not a substantive part of any of my arguments. Since we are discussing SCOTLAND, none of the strawmen – excuse me, straw-womyn – of FGM, female infanticide, etc. are relevant, and claiming those are part of the politics of drag is prima facie ludicrous.

  26. John Morales says

    abbeycadabra:

    This is another thing that makes folks suspect you are one [TERF] yourself, Ophelia.

    You realise that such claims of suspicion wear tedious as time goes by and substantiation remains ever over the horizon, no?

    (It’s a pretty stupid talking point, IMO)

  27. says

    #41: Substantiation is not over the horizon. Frankly I’m seeing TERF behavior right here. I am TRYING to extend the benefit of the doubt – again – because on most issues I agree with and support Ophelia’s point of view, and it would be nice not to write her off as a bigot. You ARE aware this has come up in spades before, right? So let’s dispense with guessing.

    Ophelia. Do you believe trans women are women, yes or no? (Please be aware that ‘yes, but’ or any other kind of ‘sort of’ or ‘maybe’ is an appeal to ‘separate but equal’ and therefore equivalent to ‘no’.)

  28. John Morales says

    abbeycadabra:

    Ophelia. Do you believe trans women are women, yes or no?

    Your rhetorical shenanigans are puerile.

    Why do you contrast trans women to women, if you don’t think there’s a difference?

    (Aren’t they both women? 😉 )

  29. says

    #43. That’s stupid, John. *I* think trans women are a *subset* of women. All trans women are women; not all women are trans women. You’re trolling. It’s a legitimate question and one I really genuinely want to hear Ophelia’s answer to.

    How about you, John? Do you consider trans women to be women?

  30. Z says

    Your rhetorical shenanigans are puerile.

    Projecting much? This is a better description of your comment. “trans women are women” is not something abbeycadabra has made up on the spot.

    Given that Ophelia Benson has avoided addressing the point at least twice, I think it’s safe to conclude that my reading is correct and the comparison with Dolezal was sincere and deliberate. And no, I don’t think it was a benign comparison. Sapienti sat.

  31. says

    To be fair, these last few comments were late in the evening, and she could be in bed or otherwise occupied. It’s only fair to give Ophelia some time to get around to reading this.