How come there are so few Drag Kings, some ask. Well, there are not "so few". What happens is that they are not very visible.
Drag Kings are people who have decided to show us how masculinity can also be an object of attention. To give shape to the idea that we have of the masculinity that governs us, to explore the man within us, to put into play roles that are forbidden to us by our identity... Empowering us by playing at pretending to be something we are not for the pleasure of trying the "if we were".
The Drag King workshops emerged in the 1980s within the feminist movement as a space of exploration for women to decipher the codes of hegemonic masculinity and question the power that was (and is) implicit in them. Thus, the Drag King has had a transformative political potential since its inception. Because it does not only emerge to question and reinterpret the masculine in a society where binarism is untouchable. It also makes feminine masculinity visible and empowering.
Not all people who perform the masculine gender are female. There are all genders. There are those who identify themselves as men and want to explore a type of masculinity that is not their own. Photographer Bruce Wang's work illustrating this post gives visibility to the diversity of London's Drag Kings over the last few years. Their artistic expression has evolved to what we can see today, but the political is still present. The low visibility is, in a way, a good sign of this. The uncomfortable is annoying.
Wang publishes his portraits in a series of books, "Kings of Drag", in which we can see his homage to this diversity. Each photograph is a celebration of the empowerment that comes from daring to play with the masculine and using that power to continue building our own identities.
Further Reading Artefact Magazine Beau Jangles