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Free Content Off the clock: Is drag ‘just a job’?

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Many contemporary performance scholars and ethnographers define drag as ‘just a job’, a professional identity often presented as incompatible trans identity. However, recent events, such as Facebook’s ‘real names’ issue, and trans drag performer Peppermint’s highly publicized tenure on RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009–present), have put tension on this fairly narrow definition of drag. In this article, I use these recent moments of tension between drag and trans identity as a jumping off point to track the history of the definition of drag as ‘just a job’ and scrutinize the simplicity of this statement. Drawing on the work of trans historian Susan Stryker, theatre historian Laurence Senelick and drag ethnographer Esther Newton, among others, I use both recent and historic moments of convergence and overlap between drag and trans communities to problematize the definition of the two identities as mutually exclusive.

Keywords: LGBTQ history; drag; performance studies; queer identity; social media; television Studies; trans studies

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The University of Toronto

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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  • Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture (QSMPC) is a refereed academic journal devoted to the study of representations and expressions of queerness in its various forms. International in scope and representing a wide variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, it publishes scholarship on topics at the intersection of media/popular culture and queerness in gender/sexuality. QSMPC invites articles and artwork pertaining to queerness in media and popular culture, as well as reviews pertaining to recently released queer media artifacts.
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