Michael Aaron

Michael Aaron: A sense of humor about ourselves

While not the biggest issue of the day, one story I had to write this month, I think, is a symptom of much of what ails society today. I think it is a symptom of our nation’s fear of those different than us, and a demand that everyone assimilate to “the norm.”

For many years, the Ogden Raptors had a troupe of volunteers do the field drag — a term for dragging boards around the dirt areas of the field to level it out — in … drag.

Enter a gay man who looks to that as a dig at the LGBT community and files a complaint. The team kills the practice.

Drag has a long, deep and beautiful history in our community. It has entertained us for decades, if not centuries. It has challenged the idea of gender norms long before the current discussions of gender diversity. Drag queens have a history of consoling a community that lived in fear.

José Sarria, the founder of the Imperial Court System — a drag organization that is arguably the oldest still-running LGBT group in the country — would end each night with bar patrons holding hands singing, “God save us nelly queens.”

“It sounds silly, but if you lived at that time and had the oppression coming down from the police department and from society, there was nowhere to turn … and to be able to put your arms around other gay men and to be able to stand up and sing ‘God Save Us Nelly Queens’ … we were [really] saying ‘We have our rights, too,” Sarria once said.

Sarria also became the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States.

Drag has brought people together. Straight, bisexual, military people would, and still do, go to drag shows and celebrate the frivolity.

I celebrate that our community has its differences from the mainstream. I celebrate that people express their gender in different ways. I celebrate that ostensibly straight men would don a dress in public and groom a field.

I also celebrate the fact that people’s skin is different than mine, that people speak different languages and make different kinds of food, that people express their spirituality in a multitude of ways.

I hope we can embrace and celebrate our differences, and eschew the political correctness that would make us an all-beige society. Q

Michael Aaron

Michael Aaron is the editor and publisher of QSaltLake. He has been active in Utah's gay and lesbian community since the early 80s and published two publications then and in the 90s.

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