The politics of the bachelorette party

Posted on 10 Apr 2015 at 7:45am

What does a bi girl drag fan do when planning her bachelorette blast?


2015-Wedding-Issue-logoI joke all the time about having been raised by drag queens, but it’s actually not far from the truth.

After a particularly heinous breakup left me shell-shocked and suddenly single at the starting line of my 20s, one of my best friends talked me into going to Backstreet in Little Rock (and I’m showing my age, because the club now goes by Triniti) to take in my very first official drag show. (I say “official” because I’d seen — and loved — a few scattered performances during Pride week on my college campus, but had never ventured into a club to witness a full-fledged production.)

I figured it couldn’t hurt to take a night off of crying into a wine bottle in favor of some glitter, so off I went.

The year was 2009, and the show was predictably magical. I found solace in the sequins and got my life. Ever since then, taking in some drag has been regular part of my routine, whether it’s watching (and dissecting) RuPaul’s Drag Race with friends, drinking too much and getting my life at Gaybingo or grabbing a VIP table for Second Saturday drag nights at The Brick.

It’s a hobby that I never thought twice about — until I got engaged … to a man.

There are all sorts of guilty, messy, conflicting feelings that are par for the course when you’re bisexual, but none more so than when you decide to settle down. If you choose a member of the same sex, it means you were actually gay the whole time! Choose a member of the opposite sex? Just kidding — you’re actually a traitor to the cause.

Chaka CumberbatchI’m lucky to have so many amazing bisexual men and women to help me talk these feelings through in my coven, because although my identity hasn’t changed, the way it is viewed certainly has.

Because like I said, I’ve been going to drag shows for years, and I’ve seen more than a handful of bachelorette parties in my time. Before I got engaged, I was dead set against bachelorette parties in gay clubs. Dead set. I felt it was insensitive at best, and disrespectful at worst.

The ability to marry, especially in the state of Texas, is a luxury for some when it should be a right for all. And I didn’t feel like it was fair to celebrate your impending marriage in an establishment full of people who aren’t afforded that same privilege.

Part of me still feels that way. But now that I’m engaged myself, I find myself on the other end of the equation.

Was I really being fair? Is it now wrong for me to celebrate this milestone event in my life at my usual haunts? Am I no longer welcome because I’m marrying a man? Was I ever really welcome at all?

I already read incredibly femme, and my girls do, too; if I bring my bridesmaids to a show, will people treat us like a bunch of dumb straight girls acting like they’re at the zoo?

Should I even worry about these things in the first place?

I can’t help it either way — being bisexual means having one foot in two worlds at all times, never really certain if you’re wanted in either. When my maid of honor — the same friend who brought me to my first show, and is now indoctrinating her 3-year-old with Drag Race reruns — asked if I had any preferences for my bachelorette this fall, my natural instinct was to request to see some drag. But now I’m not completely sure.

It’s possible I’m thinking too hard about the entire thing, that this is the absolute first of the first world problems, that nobody would really care, that the entire problem lives exclusively in my head. It wouldn’t be the first time.

But nothing has been more bittersweet about this engagement than happily planning my wedding while simultaneously having to watch so many of my closest friends get their hopes up about having their unions legally recognized, only to get let down time and time again. I’m painfully aware of how lucky I am to be able to marry the man I love at this specific moment in time, and I want nothing more than to be respectful of the struggles of those who can’t.

I don’t know if I’ve settled on an answer for any of my questions — about this issue or about the latest season of Drag Race. But the “when in doubt, choose glitter” life strategy I developed in kindergarten has yet to lead me wrong, so I’ll probably choose the more sparkly of the two options … and just omit the gaudy plastic penises.
Party City accessories turn my skin green anyway.

Chaka Cumberbatch is a bisexual writer and cosplayer extraordinaire who frequently freelances for Dallas Voice.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 10, 2015.

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