Drag performers’ perspectives on the mainstreaming of British drag: Towards a sociology of contemporary drag

Mark McCormack, Liam Wignall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drag performance has entered mainstream British culture and is gaining unprecedented appreciation and recognition, yet no sociological accounts of this transformation exist. Using an inductive analysis of in-depth interviews with 25 drag performers, alongside netnography of media and other public data, this article develops a sociological understanding of the mainstreaming of drag. There are two clear reasons for the success of drag. First, there is a pull towards drag: it is now seen as a viable career opportunity where performers receive fame rather than social stigma in a more inclusive social zeitgeist, even though the reality is more complex. Second, there is a push away from other creative and performing arts because heteronormative perspectives persist through typecasting and a continued professional stigma associated with drag. In calling for a sociology of drag, future avenues for research on contemporary drag are discussed, alongside the need for the sociology of cultural and creative industries to incorporate sexuality as both a subject and analytic lens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank all the performers for their time, Christopher Green for his interview that informed our thinking around the boundaries between drag and gender-bending in mainstream theatre, and Miss Coco Peru who inspired this project. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • celebrity
  • culture
  • drag
  • drag queen
  • heteronormativity
  • LGBT
  • mainstreaming
  • performance
  • sexualities


Dive into the research topics of 'Drag performers’ perspectives on the mainstreaming of British drag: Towards a sociology of contemporary drag'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this