Nearing the end of our discussion, Thorgy Thor—the internationally renowned drag queen, best known for her laudable stints on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 8 and All Stars season 3—is reminded of a bitter childhood memory. “I had a lot of girl friends when I was younger and my mother said to me, ‘Be careful, if you hang out with enough women, you’re going to become one,’” Shane Gillian, the person behind the makeup, remarks. “I didn’t know back then but as I grew up it still impacts me.”
As I speak with the self-identified “fashion clown” and classically trained musician (violin, viola and cello), who admits he did have a fairly supportive family when he came out, a theme persists: a parent’s lasting influence on their children, particularly regarding gender and sexuality. “We need parents to put a little less emphasis on masculinity and the expectations of being male with each passing generation,” Thorgy implores, before embarking on a lengthy and unrelated tangent about Mr. Rogers. “Sorry,” he says, interrupting himself. “What was the question again?”
This scatteredness is what fans love most about Thorgy, who made such a lasting impression in his season of Drag Race, that he was invited back two years later to compete in All Stars. And it’s why he was invited here to sound off on what makes a man.
TITLE: How would you recommend a man explore his feminine side?
THORGY THOR: It’s stereotypical, but take care of yourself—take pride in your appearance. Go to the spa. Get a pedicure. It’s self-care. Personally, I don’t find that a very feminine thing. Then again, that opens a whole floodgate of what’s feminine and what’s masculine, of which there are no right or wrong answers, only opinions. I identify closely with both, so when people call me out for not being feminine or masculine enough, it’s far more telling of them than it is of me. Personally, I’d rather talk about that. When someone says you’re not feminine enough—what the hell does that mean?
What about drag shows? That seems like a fun way to embrace femininity.
Yes, totally! I think there is a duality in all of us. Whether or not masculine men want to admit that or not, they think it. Usually when a woman or a gay friend drags their very masculine friend to a drag show, he has the best time. You challenge what these guys are typically comfortable with through laughter and entertainment. You open their minds.
I don’t want masculinity to be gone. I like masculinity and femininity. I like the distinction, the argument, the conversation.
People who are ultra-masculine and let you know that right away, I don’t think they’re very comfortable with themselves. When I meet very confident people, they usually don’t take umbrage with diversity or opposition. They accept it and want to learn more. Somebody who is so not open and headstrong is deeply insecure. If they could just let that go, I think that everyone would get along better.
The definition of what’s masculine seems to be evolving.
Absolutely. I can’t tell you how many men will wander into clubs, bars and spaces and come up to me saying, “My wife and I watch RuPaul’s Drag Race all the time, but I’m a bigger fan and I make her watch it.” I think that’s just the coolest thing to hear and I hear it all the time. I love when a wife approaches me at a meet and greet with her husband and child and says, “My husband loves you guys. He dragged me here.” And maybe that’s feminine—to love drag? I think we’re just artistic men running around and having fun.
If discussions continue and masculinity is further dissected, will the idea of gender cease to exist?
I don’t want masculinity to be gone. I like masculinity and femininity. I like the distinction, the argument, the conversation. I don’t want everyone to blur lines. Tolerance, diversity and conversation are worth having. Opposites attract. This isn’t a gendered issue. Two men (one who may be feminine and one who may be more traditionally masculine) can match. The same goes for women.