When I think of a drag show, I think of fierce brown and black queens dropping hard to seriously raw beats, exuding opulent femininity in glamorous defiance of white America. I think of my own colored homosexuality, in all its feminized, commoditized, and stigmatized glory. I think of Venus Xtravaganza. I do not think of K College’s muscularized male frisbee team (is frisbee even a sport?), bearing their white dicks for all to see as a reminder that even in “drag” they can and will remain the benefactors of my oppression. But as it were, what I think does not matter to the mostly white members of Kaleidoscope.
They think that the male frisbee team’s display was prize-worthy. And who – besides myself, in all my critically flaming angst of color – wouldn’t? They were good white male sports, after all. And their muscles were almost hot enough to send me into heat, until I remembered where I was supposed to be: at a drag show. And then I remembered where I had just been: listening to Charles Mills’ discussion of wealth re-distribution as a means for achieving racial justice. I arrived at the end of the “drag show” to witness Kaleidoscope awarding $100 to a group of presumably straight (judging by their eagerness to mock gay ass-f–king on stage) white men. So much for wealth redistribution.
Now, I can’t entirely blame K-scopers for their shallow ignorance. Had they scheduled their event to begin after Charles Mills’ enlightened lecture (rather than during it), perhaps they would have judged their “drag show” differently. Yes, I am implying that white men shouldn’t win drag shows. But this was unbeknownst to K-scope’s leadership. Why? Because they are mostly white. As such, they don’t face the same time constraints as myself and other queer students of color: either we attend a heternormative lecture on racial justice, or we attend a racist drag show, but never both. To me, and my brown and black sisters, the scheduling conflict was no coincidence.
Kaleidoscope’s lack of intentionality when scheduling their “drag show” and their crude misunderstanding of who and what constitutes liberatory drag, among other things, is testament to their white negligence, which they have intentionally chosen to impose on me and my brown and black sisters with their Crystal Ball theme of “1950s America.” A drag ball is perhaps the only space where the violently oppressive heterosexist, sexist, classist and racist closet of “1950s America” can be turned on its head.
Unfortunately, based on the preview “drag show” K-scope put on last week, I have full faith that any such liberationist subversive activity will not be the focus of Crystal Ball. And as a queer of color who would have experienced the violent history of 1950s America more painfully than the mostly white members of K-scope, rest assured that had I been present at Kaleidoscope’s deliberations this theme would not have made it past the initial brainstorm. This begs the question: “why, Hussain, don’t you go to K-scope meetings?” Because as a queer of color I have other, more important meetings to attend. And having been shut down in the past by white members of K-scope, and by white queers in general, I simply do not feel welcome.
Little to no effort was made on the part of K-scope to rectify my exclusion and the exclusion of my brown and black sisters. Much to the defensive and reactionary chagrin of our white counterparts, my sisters and I have formed our own bourgie organization for l/g/b/t students of color. And as expected, K-scope members were unhappy, to say the least, which to me means we’re doing something right!
But a group of privileged liberal arts students forming another student organization is not necessarily the solution to the insidious problems I have identified. As it stands, I cannot speak towards possible solutions. Nor am I compelled to completely justify my anger. But what I can speak towards is the problem as it angers me. My brown Muslim anger is usually the stuff of terrorist Islamic extremism, and I am often pressured to suppress it when in mixed company. But there can be no solution absent a problem, and there is never a problem absent anger.
I offer my angry criticism to our campus in this spirit. If it opens up dialogue, that is great. If not, that is also OK. At least my colored queer anger is on the record – something 1950s America would have probably lobotomized me for.