The interaction of drag queens and gay men in public and private spaces

Dana Berkowitz, Linda Belgrave, Robert A. Halberstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This study examines the issue of internal segregation within the gay community, focusing on the ways by which the drag queen subculture is distanced from larger mainstream gay society. Through the use of institutional ethnography, symbolic interactionism, and a naturalist approach to sociology, the researchers sought to understand the subjective experience of the drag queen, in particular how drag queens perceive their interactions with mainstream gay society. Data for this study were collected through a series of observations conducted in a variety of spatial contexts and interviews with 18 drag queens. Findings indicate that spatial distance between the drag queens and the mainstream gay men is dependent on both the social context and the level of professionalization of the drag queen. Although drag queens' perceptions of their status in the gay community are also dependent on the latter, discussions of relationship difficulties and the quest for a long-term romantic partner illustrate that discrimination within the gay community is both widespread and complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-32
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 15 2007


  • Cross-dress
  • Drag queen
  • Ethnography
  • Gay men
  • Gender blending
  • Internal segregation
  • Transgenderism
  • Transvestite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Psychology(all)


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