A Brief History of Drag Queens

Drag Queens: A Glittering History of Gender-Bending Performers

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Drag queens have been dazzling audiences with their extravagant performances and larger-than-life personas for decades. However, where did this distinct type of entertainment originate from, and how did it change over time? This article explores the development of drag queens throughout history, from their inception to the present.


Drag queens have existed for centuries and have roots in classical Greece and Rome. In the theatre, actors would dress as women to portray female roles, beginning the custom of men dressing as women for performances. Men continued to play female characters throughout history in Shakespearean plays and other theatrical events.

Drag queens didn't start appearing in more common venues like vaudeville and burlesque acts, meanwhile, until the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These entertainers, sometimes known as "pansies" or "fairies," would amuse crowds with songs, dances, and comedic performances.


With the emergence of gay culture and the introduction of gay-friendly businesses like speakeasies and cabarets, the drag queen scene really started to take off in the 1920s and 1930s. In these places, gay men could interact and see drag queens perform without being judged by the wider community.

Drag queens started to create their own distinctive looks and identities about this period. They would frequently do lip-synced renditions of well-known songs while donning elaborate costumes and wigs. The "drag show" as we know it today had its beginnings around this time.

Drag queens have long been a source of amusement, but they have also been significant figures in the LGBTQ+ community. Drag queens have served as a source of motivation, identity, and representation for many queer people. Additionally, they have been political activists who have used their performances to question cultural expectations and advance LGBTQ+ rights.


Drag pageants are one of the most well-known customs among drag queens. Drag queens fight against one another in these occasions, which date back to the 1960s in the US, in categories like talent, interviews, and evening gown. In many cases, the victor is dubbed "Miss Drag Queen" or "Queen of the Ball."

Drag balls, when drag queens and other LGBTQ+ people congregate to compete in a range of categories like "Butch Queen," "Femme Queen," and "Female Impersonator," are another well-known custom.

Costumes and Theater

Drag queens are famous for their ornate outfits, which sometimes include shiny materials like sequins and feathers. These costumes, which might take hours to put on, are frequently designed and made by the drag queens themselves.

A major component of drag queen performance is theatre. Numerous drag queens have showcased their acting and singing abilities by appearing in musicals, plays, and other theatrical works.

The history of drag queens spans several centuries. They have developed from being a theatrical form of entertainment to a significant element of the LGBTQ+ community and culture. Drag queens continue to enthral audiences with their spectacular costumes, theatrical performances, and larger-than-life personalities, and to encourage individuals from all backgrounds to embrace their uniqueness and work for acceptance and equality.