Drag Queens teach the art of Tucking

Donnarama

Tucking is the art of making your testicles “miraculously” disappear.  But just how does a drag queen make that happen?  Where do they go?

Drag queens and butch lesbians were at the forefront of the gay liberation movement at Stonewall.  Their queer visibility made them conscripted soldiers for a movement in which the majority of its citizenry were invisible/voiceless gay men and women who were mostly in the closet.  Who would have thought that sissies and bull dykes would come to our community’s rescue?  Our militant forefathers and foremothers had serious balls.  And quite frankly, it’s the visible and vocal queers of today that continue to challenge gender, sexuality and sex as our modern day queer warriors.

And that’s exactly what drag artist Barbie Jo Bontemps says in our documentary Balls, ”It takes a lot of balls to be a drag queen!” In the bigger picture, she is certainly echoing our queer herstory, but at that very moment she is specifically referring to the physical, testicular pains that drag queens must undergo to realize their gender illusion.  Tucking your balls is common practice for many a modern drag artist. Whether you are using tight underwear, a gaffe (pulling all your junk back with a sock) or duck tape for tucking, the end result is the same; your testicles “miraculously” disappear.  
 ucking BarbieJoBontemps
To make one’s testicles disappear, you are essentially pushing your balls back into your body’s natural cavities.  It’s kinda uncomfortable, but not overly painful.  Unlike Barbie, Donnarama is not overly enthusiastic about tucking, “I hate 3 things.  I hate shaving my face, shaving my back and TUCKING”!  It’s not easy being gorgeous, but sometimes a girl’s got to do, what a girl’s got to do. Interestingly, this idea of tucking, like wearing high heels or make-up, speaks to the discomfort that many women often endure to also realize the illusion of gender that has been imposed on them by the heterosexual cis-male gaze.
 Tucking 1
Back in my salad days, I used to do a lot of what I would call “clown” drag.  My goal was to look fun and vaguely girly.  For me, drag was a multi-layered tool to play with gender and gender expectations.  That said, I never tucked or gaffed, in fact, sometimes I wouldn’t even shave.  I liked to both shock and amuse my immediate audience. I was never trying to “pass” as a “real” woman.  Some drag queens refer to this as “fishy”, a term that I’m not particularly comfortable with. Part of this discomfort stems from an inherent misogyny of cis-men playing with female gender without any real ownership or consequence.  If things get too “real”, the drag queen can assume the privilege of being a cis-male, whereas women are systematically compromised without any escape.  They suffer physically, emotionally and economically because of their gender.  Perhaps it is women who have the “real” balls after all.
 Tucking Donnarama
Barbie and Donnarama offer a great counterpoint and levity in our documentary Balls.  Their playful, off-the-cuff banter help bridge the conversations around testicular health and men’s health in general, both physical and emotional. Because of how men are generally socialized, they are not having open, honest and vulnerable discussions about their own personal health and how to ask for help.  In its own small ways I hope Balls, with the help of Barbie and Donnarama, opens that door.

~ Nico Stagias, Director of Photography at Border2Border Entertainment

Grab your Balls and hold on!  Let’s discover everything you never knew about your nuts.

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Gender Confirmation

gender confirmation

For LGBTQ people, coming out is a huge step in the process towards self-love and validation.  For someone representing the T in that acronym, gender confirmation surgery may be the ultimate step in becoming their most authentic self.  Thankfully in many countries around the world this hurtle is becoming easier to overcome as our societies become more educated and less discriminatory.

However there are still too many stories of verbal and physical abuse, abandonment and stigma.  That’s why for me sharing stories is so important.  It’s a small step that can help educate and hopefully even trigger empathy.

When our hearts begin to empathize with people we previously considered strangers or incompatible with our own set of social constructs – that’s progress and it can be incredibly powerful.

Though I am a gay man, in my younger years I admit to not understanding how the T fit into the LGBT community.  For that matter I didn’t understand how a person would want to confirm or reassign their gender.

That’s because my perspective was limited and empathy hadn’t entered the equation.  At that point I had not met anyone who had transitioned genders or was considering it face to face.  My knowledge on the subject was limited and my capacity for empathy was also meager.  The opportunity for honest and direct communication is sometimes the most powerful motivation for changed behavior or attitudes.

I am cis male. I look and represent myself to the world in our society’s current and traditional construct of what a man is and/or should be.  I’m very comfortable in my maleness and my body.  I’m at home in jeans, t-shirts and a ball cap.  I’ve sported a beard for over two decades, simply because I’m most comfortable this way.  The fact that my physicality and way of interacting with the world is in alignment with the expectations of the gender I was born means that I operate in a position of privilege.  And as soon as we are able to recognize the unique positions of privilege we each have, it creates an opportunity to look outward and exercise our minds and hearts to be more empathetic.

Essentially I’m an urban bear or lumbersexual if you want to toss some loose labels on me though I prefer not to be packaged because I always find it becomes limiting and never fully represents who I am, my interests and most importantly who I may evolve to be and haven’t even imagined yet.

And that potential for evolution within a person is what I’d like for you to consider today.

In what ways have you changed in your existence thus far?

Have you had to come out to friends or family in one or more aspects of your life?

Is there another revelation you’d like to explore and share with the world?

How does your most authentic and best self look, behave and interact with the world?

Have you had a conversation with someone considering or who has had gender confirmation surgery?

With some of those thoughts in mind, I invite you to watch the latest video in our men’s health series, Balls.  This episode features Danica, a woman of incredible strength, love and resilience.  With Danica as our guide we take a very personal journey to discover gender confirmation.

We have two episodes with Danica within this series so be sure to sign up for my newsletter and subscribe to my YouTube channel so you won’t miss this incredible story.

 

 

If you’d like to start at the beginning of our exploration of men’s health, please check out these other articles and videos.

Balls Documentary – Director Discussion

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

Gender Reassignment 

You can watch the documentary in its entirety on Vimeo, Amazon, YouTube or right here.

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