Happy Spring Diversity Weekend 2023
“We're all born naked and the rest is drag” is a phrase that was popularized by legendary drag performer RuPaul, and has come to mean a lot to many different people. At its essence, this phrase is a reminder that we are all born with nothing, and that everything beyond our nakedness is a construction of our own design. It is a celebration of the power and agency that we each have to create our own identities and our own sense of self.
At first glance, the phrase may seem flippant or even trivial. After all, what could be more basic than being born naked? But when we delve deeper into its meaning, we find that it is actually a profound insight into what it means to be human. To truly grasp the significance of this phrase, we need to consider its implications in a few different contexts.
First, let's consider what it means to be born naked. At its simplest level, this is a reminder that we all come into this world with nothing but our own bodies. We do not bring with us any of the trappings of the societies into which we are born - no clothes, no possessions, no preconceptions or biases. We are, in a sense, pure and unadulterated, ready to be shaped by the world around us.
This also means that we are all fundamentally equal at birth. Regardless of our family background, our social status, or the color of our skin, we all start out in the same place. We are all equally vulnerable, equally dependent on those around us for our survival. This is a powerful reminder that the categories that we create to distinguish ourselves from each other - race, class, gender, religion, etc. - are all constructs, and that deep down we are all the same.
Of course, as we grow and develop, we quickly begin to differentiate ourselves from each other. This is where the phrase “the rest is drag” comes in. The term “drag” is most commonly associated with the art of gender performance, where performers dress up and adopt exaggerated personas that often subvert traditional gender norms. But in a broader sense, drag can be thought of as any kind of performance of identity. It is the act of putting on a costume, adopting a character, and playing a role.
This is what we all do as we move through life. We put on clothes, hairstyles, and makeup that reflect our sense of self - or that we hope will project the image of ourselves that we want others to see. We adopt mannerisms, ways of speaking, and social signifiers that align with our chosen identities. We build networks of relationships with people who share our interests and values, and often, sadly, we reject those who do not.
All of this is “drag” - a performance of identity that is both conscious and unconscious, intentional and instinctual. And yet, despite the fact that we are all performing in some way, we often forget the fact that it is performance. We begin to believe that our identities are fixed and immutable, that we are the sum total of our biological characteristics and our social circumstances. Here in Eureka Springs, we know that the categories we use to define ourselves are arbitrary and fluid, and that we have the power to shape them in any way we wish and in this safe, loving, welcoming community - we can simply be.
“We’re all born naked and the rest is drag” is a reminder that everything beyond our nakedness - everything that we do to differentiate ourselves from others - is a choice. It is a construction that we have built ourselves, and that we can deconstruct and rebuild as we see fit. It is a call to embrace the power and agency that we each have to shape our own identities and to reject any attempts to pigeonhole us into categories that do not fit.
Of course, this is easier said than done. The world is full of systems and institutions that work to shape our identities in particular ways - to tell us what is “normal” and what is “deviant,” what is “valuable” and what is “worthless.”
These systems can be particularly oppressive to those who do not fit into the dominant categories of race, gender, sexuality, and ability.
They can create a sense of alienation, of not belonging, of feeling like one’s true self is always just out of reach.
Please take a moment to consider reading the blog series here on www.iloveureka.com entitled - Words Matter.
But despite these challenges, the fact remains that we are all performing some degree of “drag” in our lives.
And with every choice we make about how to present ourselves, we are also making choices about what kind of world we want to live in. We are signaling to others what we value, what we prioritize, what we reject. We are creating networks of relationships that can either reinforce existing power structures or challenge them. We are, in other words, making change happen.
So what does it mean to truly embrace the idea that “we're all born naked and the rest is drag?” It means recognizing that we are not fixed, immutable objects, but rather dynamic, fluid beings who are constantly in a state of becoming.
In Eureka Springs, we know that you are you and we love you just the way you are.
Here and everywhere.❤️