By Bianca High
We always hear about how people of the LGBTQ community are constantly judged by society, but we rarely hear about how the gay community treats each other. And until recently it wasn’t often that there was light shed onto the life of drag and what it means to be a drag queen.
Drag queens and kings have always ruled a certain area of Atlanta nightlife. But they’ve never been bigger than now, thanks to increasing LGBTQ acceptance.
It used to be men dressed in glamorous gowns and full makeup lip-syncing to records by famous divas. The Chers, Madonnas and Britneys are still on full display. But they’re sharing the spotlight with a newer generation of queens that go for more experimental and give alternative takes on the tradition.
Fiera Ice, a drag queen who performs all over Atlanta talks about what it’s like to be a drag queen.
“Straight people used to think we were odd; now we have to contend with other gays who think we give them a bad name,” said Ice, whose real name is Alex Luce.
After visiting a bar with a friend after he graduated from high school, Luce saw one of his first drag performances. Always wanting to be some type of performer, he felt that drag was his calling.
For the past 7 years, Luce has been two people: the vivacious Fiera Ice, and a man who works at a steady retail job. Ice is a blonde haired vixen with big lips and a big personality to match.
When Luce puts on his makeup and transforms into Ice, it is like his armor.
“I turn into another person,” Luce says. “Where Alex is quiet and a little reserved, Fiera is more confident.”
Becoming an entertainer is not without its troubles though. Ashton Cooter, whose name is Ashley Eye, a local drag king shares experiences of what it’s like to be a lesbian performing is drag. Eye’s family members know of her lifestyle choices, but there are still some parts of her life that she keeps to herself.
“They are aware that I am gay, but they don’t officially know about Ashton,” says Eye.
When Eye first started doing drag, she lived with her parents. She was just out of high school.
“My mom found men’s clothing under my bed one day and confronted me about it,” says Eye. “She told me that if I was going to cross dress, I would need to move out of the house.”
Eye agreed to stop, but instead she just kept any evidence of Cooter hidden.
“I kept all of my costumes in the trunk of my car, then a storage of building. Eventually I moved out.” she said.
At this point, Eye is confident that if her parents knew she was performing drag they would disown her.
How does one qualify as being successful in the drag world? By winning titles and the hearts of fans. Drag pageants are competitive and stressful, as most who are involved would agree.
According to Jenna Foster, a transgender drag queen who performs under the name Adriana Luce, to be a successful drag queen, one must have her own outfits, her own makeup, the skill to transform from a man into a woman, and the ability to make her own musical mixes and costumes.
“It isn’t cheap,” says Foster. “There are a lot of girls that have people do their hair and makeup, but you need to be able to do it yourself.”
Being a drag queen is not always comfortable either. As a transgender contestant Foster has committed to an entire routine to help make herself look more feminine. She also talked about the use of duct tape to achieve many things, including cleavage.
“We actually duct-tape our chest to achieve cleavage. We contour it with makeup to make it look like a chest line,” she said.
Some queens even duct-tape their waist and genitals to achieve a more feminine body. There are also tools such as foam rubber, corsets and girdles to give an hourglass figure to an otherwise male body.
“I wear girdles, tights, and foam hip inserts to help create my shape. It takes about two hours to get ready, including makeup, hair and putting on the body,” says Foster
Though Foster stays positive about the ways that drag performers have advanced through the years and says that being a drag queen is more accepted by society now, there is still tension within the LGBTQ community.
“I have felt prejudice within the community. Some gay people want to sweep you into the closet. They think it gives the community a bad name. ” she said.
Foster says that some within the LGBT community need more open minds, especially concerning drag queens.