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I Want to Break Free from Your Lies

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article explores the complicated and often contradictory history of drag in American culture, from Freddie Mercury's iconic "I Want to Break Free" video to the portrayal of drag in the TV series "MAS*H" and the author's own personal experiences. It delves into the prevalence of drag performances in the U.S. military during World War II, as well as the ongoing debates and controversies surrounding drag in contemporary society.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Freddie Mercury and "I Want to Break Free"

1. What was the reaction to Freddie Mercury's appearance in drag in the "I Want to Break Free" video? The article states that MTV initially banned the video in 1984 for being "too homosexual," as the band's members were depicted as dull, sexless housewives, which was seen as emasculating and morally wrong in America at the time.

2. How did the author's perspective on Freddie Mercury's performance differ from the initial reaction? The author found Freddie Mercury's performance in drag to be profoundly masculine and feminist, as the band members embraced the ugly tropes about female housewives and horny barmaids without caring about societal expectations.

[02] Drag in the U.S. Military During World War II

1. What was the role of drag in the U.S. military during World War II? The article states that drag performance was a formalized part of military service during World War II, with the Army Special Services creating handbooks and guidelines for soldiers to put on "girly shows" with comedic routines, skilled "female" singers and dancers, and impersonations of female stars.

2. How was drag viewed and treated within the military during this time? The article suggests that while homosexuality was not tolerated, the drag entertainers were not stigmatized or punished for their perceived or actual sexual identities, and their performative femininity was celebrated as beautiful.

[03] The Author's Personal Experiences with Drag

1. What was the author's experience with a "pimps and hoes" costume party? The author decided to dress in drag and interact with the male guests, only to be shoved away and met with disgust when they realized the person in drag was a man. The only person who did not have this reaction was a cishet male Marine.

2. How did this experience shape the author's views on women and queer experiences? The author states that this experience was a lesson they never forgot, and it shaped their understanding of the experiences of women and those across the queer spectrum.

[04] The Ongoing Debates and Controversies Surrounding Drag

1. How has the perception and treatment of drag changed over time in the U.S.? The article notes that while the U.S. and the world have changed in many ways since the initial banning of the "I Want to Break Free" video, there has also been regression, with drag being banned on military bases in 2023 and drag shows and performers being targeted as dangerous to children.

2. What are some of the ongoing debates and controversies surrounding drag, particularly in relation to trans representation? The article acknowledges the complicated nature of drag for trans women, who may view it as only acceptable to some cishet men and women because it is often played for laughs, reinforcing the notion that trans women are "just men in dresses."

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