Drag queen

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A drag queen is usually a man who dresses, and usually acts, like a caricature woman often for the purpose of entertaining or performing. There are many kinds of drag artists and they vary greatly, from professionals who have starred in movies to people who just try it once. Drag queens also vary by class and culture and can vary even within the same city. Although many drag queens are presumed to be gay men or transgender people, there are drag artists of all genders and sexualities who do drag for various reasons.

Generally, drag queens dress in a female gender role, often exaggerating certain characteristics (such as make-up and eyelashes) for comic, dramatic or satirical effect. Other drag performers include drag kings, who are women who perform in male roles, faux queens, who are women who dress in an exaggerated style to emulate drag queens and faux kings, who are men who dress to impersonate drag kings.

The term drag queen usually refers to people who dress in drag for the purpose of performing, whether singing or lip-synching, dancing, participating in events such as gay pride parades, drag pageants, or at venues such as cabarets and discotheques. In the United Kingdom, alongside traditional drag work such as shows and performances, many drag queens engage in 'mix-and-mingle' or hosting work at night clubs or at private parties/events. Drag is a part of Western gay culture; it is often noted that the Stonewall riots on June 27, 1969 in New York City were inspired and led by drag queens, and, in part for this reason, drag queens remain a tradition at gay pride events. Prominent drag queens in the gay community of a city often serve as official or unofficial spokespersons, hosts or emcees, fund-raisers, chroniclers and community leaders.

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Terminology

The etymology of the term "drag" is disputed. It was used in reference to transvestites at least as early as the 18th century, owing to the tendency of their skirts to drag on the ground.[citation needed] The term drag queen occurred in Polari, a subset of English slang that was popular in some gay communities in the early part of the 20th century. A folk etymology whose acronym basis reveals the late 20th-century bias, would make "drag" an abbreviation of "dressed as a girl" in description of male transvestism. Queen may refer to the trait of affected royalty found in many drag characters. It is also related to the archaic word "quean" which was used as a label both for promiscuous women and gay men (see Oxford English Dictionary definition number 3 for "queen").

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