Drag performers’ perspectives on the mainstreaming of British drag: Towards a sociology of contemporary drag

Mark McCormack, Liam Wignall

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Abstract

Drag performance has entered mainstream British culture and is gaining unprecedented appreciation and recognition, yet no sociological accounts of this transformation exist. Using an inductive analysis of in-depth interviews with 25 drag performers, alongside netnography of media and other public data, this article develops a sociological understanding of the mainstreaming of drag. There are two clear reasons for the success of drag. First, there is a pull towards drag: it is now seen as viable career opportunity where performers receive fame rather than social stigma in a more inclusive social zeitgeist, even if the reality is more complex. Second, there is a push away from other creative and performing arts because heteronormative perspectives persist through typecasting and a continued professional stigma associated with drag. In calling for a sociology of drag, future avenues for research on contemporary drag are discussed, alongside the need for the sociology of cultural and creative industries to incorporate sexuality as both a subject and analytic lens.

© 2021, The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-20
JournalSociology
Volume56
Issue number1
Early online date6 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • celebrity
  • culture
  • drag
  • drag queen
  • heteronormativity
  • LGBT
  • mainstreaming
  • performance
  • sexualities

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