Insight Into Drag Queens

Drag queen portrait by Leland Bobbe

(photo by Leland Bobbe,

Drag queens are a bit of a mystery to me. I enjoy their color, bravado, and theatricality, but I’ve always wondered about the deeper feelings inside these men that drives them to such extreme, and often odd, semi-impersonations of woman.

Something in this photo essay by Leland Bobbe cracks open the mystery a bit. Drag queens are pictured half done up, half their natural male selves. More on the story behind the photos here.

Portrait of a drag queen by Leland Bobbe,

(photo by Leland Bobbe)

Exposed as both person and persona, the stunning thing in these photos is the eyes. Exposing both sides of who they are in the same photo, these men lay exposed, their eyes the open windows to some very deep souls.

And therein lies my answer, I suppose. We all work to integrate all of who we are into one being and one life. In these faces I see people going to great lengths to express all of who they are, dichotomous as their presentation may seem. And for that work, and their sharing it with the rest of us, I am deeply grateful. Stunning.

Of course the most famous and heart wrenching portrayal of drag culture remains the 1990 documentary, “Paris Is Burning,” viewable here. If you’ve never seen it, put it on your list. It is an astonishing glimpse of another very different and very fabulous world where all the shiny outsides break open and reveals humanity’s heartbreaking depth.

Portrait of a drag queen by Leland Bobbe

(photo by Leland Bobbe,