Drag is not one day a year

Sarah Fonseca

Halloween is one of the few American holidays that doesn’t come with a strict set of patriotic, religious or otherwise moral guidelines. Because of this, Oct. 31 is a bit of a free-for-all, particularly in college towns. No pants? No problem. The most unsuspecting of your classmates will don everything from tinier, tighter versions of nurse uniforms to togas, which, depending on execution and fitness of the wearer, will leave one resembling Apollo or, um, a Panhellenic in a bed sheet. You’re also bound to be confused by the occasional guy dressed “like a girl” and vice versa.

Because of how gender-bender-friendly the holiday is, Halloween has a special place in many queer hearts, my own included. I’ve always beelined towards costumes designed to be worn by boys and men. While I didn’t know it as a kid, I was not simply pulling on a Ghostbusters suit or red Power Ranger mask. I was trying on a gender identity that I’d never be allowed to get away with on the other 364 days of the year. The first clues to who I really am rested in those costume choices. While fine with being female, I wanted to be all of those things that boys were encouraged to be: strong, the rescuer, and, most importantly, free.

The LGBT community actually has a term for this sort of playful, performance cross-dressing: drag. While drag happens on the daily in gay bars across the globe, Halloween is the one day that it’s safe and socially acceptable for drag to trickle out of the clubs and into the streets. Along with Halloween night festivities, there are two other events that embrace drag culture. Southern’s annual Queer Prom will take place in the Union Theater this Saturday. Next week, The Rocky Horror Picture Show–the macabre story of a “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania” who creates himself a handsome lover–will be performed at the Averitt Center for the Arts Oct. 29-30. The cast members of Rocky Horror aren’t the only ones who will be dragged to the nines. It’s encouraged — even expected — that show-goers dress up, too.

Especially for the transgender and gender nonconforming among us, our relationships and identities don’t always fit the status quo. We often try on a myriad of identities, taking them off if they feel too loose or constricting. Given the seemingly endless racks of costumes at our disposal, Halloween seems be the perfect time of the year to spend some quality time in the dressing room.