Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Biker Chick in the Anne Taylor Suit

We all came into this world naked; the rest is all drag.
~ RuPaul

Ordinarily when we think of someone in drag, we think of RuPaul, or a drag queen at the local pub who is "Working hard for her money."  There's the long eyelashes.  The theatrical makeup.  The padding and cinching. It's all an illusion of another character who is not the person standing before you.  It's magic.

Drag can mean something else too.  It's the clothes that many of us put on everyday to create the illusion that we're a corporate big wig, or a docile administrative assistant.   We put on our black and white and serve food and drinks. We dress in brown and deliver packages.  It's the uniform, whether blatantly so, or more subtle, that defines who we are with our day job.  The real question is who are we out of that drag?  That was a question that was raised at a conference I attended once.

It was a Sunday morning breakfast with a key note speaker.  It was the end of the conference, and like so many others, I wanted to blow it off and go home early, but it did include breakfast, which I'd already paid for.  I decided I'd give it a shot.  I sat in the back so I could slip out if it was too boring.  To my surprise it was anything but.

A petite blonde woman looking to be in her late thirties stepped up the podium.  She was dressed to the nines in cute little Chanel suit.  I was sure this was going to be boring, and then she opened her mouth.  One of the first things she asked is how we liked her suit.  The crowd made affirmative noises and she smiled.

"Good," she said, "but it's not who I am."  She took off the jacket.  "I am a drag queen," she said.  

Nervous laughter filled the room, so she went on to explain.  "This is drag to me.  Monday through Friday, I put on my Chanel or Ann Taylor suits and I go to the office where I make million dollar deals and have power lunches.  I have assistants who bring me things and employees who scatter as I walk through a room. Sometimes I go into my office and quietly chuckle at it all, because this is not who I am.  This is the persona I created to survive in the corporate world.  If you want to see who I am, show up at my house on Saturday morning around 10 when I'm putting on my Levis and straddling my Harley Davidson and getting ready to take her out for a ride.  That's who I am, a biker bitch in an Ann Taylor suit." 

The crowd wasn't sure how to respond, but slowly the applause began to build into an explosion. 

The speaker went on to explain how we're all in drag.  We do it to survive.  The most important thing to remember about ourselves and those around us is that it's all an illusion.  We should never judge anyone based on the persona they present to the world.  Take the time to know who they really are. 

I left that conference better than any I'd ever attended.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I must put on my drag and head to the day job.  

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