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Drag king

Drag kings are female bodied or identified performance artists – usually lesbians or trans men – who dress in masculine “drag” as part of their routine. A typical drag king performance involves dancing and singing or lip-syncing. Drag kings often perform as exaggeratedly macho male characters or impersonate male celebrities like Elvis Presley. Several drag kings became British music hall stars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (see Vesta Tilley), and British pantomime has preserved the tradition of women performing in male roles. Yet it has only been recently that drag kings have begun to gain some of the fame and attention that drag queens have known for years.

The term drag king is sometimes used in a broader sense, to include female-bodied people who dress in traditionally masculine clothing for other reasons. This usage includes women temporarily attempting to pass as men and women who wish to present themselves in a masculine gender role without identifying as a man. Some trans men (“female-to-maletransgender and transsexual people) also self-identify as drag kings.

Many modern women wear men’s hats, ties, jackets, or even full suits for fashion reasons (e.g. the “Annie Hall style”). These women are not considered drag kings.

Drag kings are largely a phenomenon of lesbian culture and can most often be seen at lesbian bars or festivals. However, not all drag kings are lesbians, and some participate in the drag king subculture without other involvement in lesbian culture, society, or politics.

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