An Academic Drag Queen’s Critical Race Theory-Informed Response to Today’s Dragphobia and Transphobia.
Courtesy of Dr Tommy Mayberry
Dr Tommy Mayberry might be one of the biggest fears of our contemporary cishet, Conservative, white, Western world: a drag queen doing critical race theory (CRT). More specifically, Dr Tommy is a raced-white academic drag queen doing critical race counterstory and teaching queer via their research, pedagogy, practice and leadership; and more specifically, “fears” and “phobias” might not be so much what is happening across these lands now known as North America.
While the word transphobia isn’t overly new (first used three decades ago in 1993), the word dragphobia appears to be an entirely new term and concept drawing open hate publicly to the fore in our global pandemic era. But none of this hate is actually new, is it? …it’s just dragged up in new clothes for a new stage and a new runway in 2023/24, if you will. 1978, California state senator John Briggs’ referendum in opposition to gay rights; 1988-2000, Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28 that stopped the promotion of homosexuality; 2022 and today, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill; 2023 and today, New Brunswick’s and Saskatchewan’s pronouns-at-school policies and bills.
So, why do people choose to hate? And even more so, to uphold hate, protect hate, legislate hate? Fear might have something to do with it, but it runs so much deeper and so much more sinisterly than that.
Tommy Mayberry, PhD (he/she/they) is an academic drag queen with a background in diverse teaching and instructional facilitation in academia as well as industry and is the inaugural Director of the Centre for Teaching Excellence and Innovation at Yorkville University and the Toronto Film School. They are co-editor, with Lindsay Bryde, of the award-winning RuPedagogies of Realness: Essays on Teaching and Learning with RuPaul’s Drag Race (McFarland, 2022), have published their work in numerous journals and edited volumes, including Discourse and Writing/Rédactologie, Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, Visual Pedagogies, International Journal of Žižek Studies, and Sexy Blake, and have performed and presented their scholarship and research findings nationally as well as internationally in places such as Oxford, Washington DC, Tokyo, and Honolulu.
Tommy earned their Joint Hons. BA (English Literature and Fine Arts: Studio) at St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo, their MA (English and Cultural Studies) at McMaster University, completed MFA (Visual Arts) work at the University of Windsor, and earned their PhD (English) at the University of Waterloo, where they were a SSHRC Doctoral Fellow and a recipient of the University of Waterloo’s Award for Exceptional Teaching.
The Historical Costume Ball Drag Show Fashion Pageant Spectacular launches a weeklong series of activities, in collaboration with the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Queen’s University. All programs are free and open to the public.