Texas Christian University (TCU) introduced a course in the 2023 spring semester titled “The Queer Art of Drag” as part of its Women and Gender Studies Department. Taught by Nino Testa, known as Maria von Clapp in the drag community, the course explores drag performance, “queer theories”, and their connection to social critique and “queer worldmaking”. Students will delve into the history of drag, engaging with drag performers and experts and even creating their own drag personas to showcase at TCU’s Annual Night of Drag.
The syllabus for the course references gender revolutionary Leslie Feinberg and advocates for an understanding of gender that goes beyond conventional categories and embraces poetry and self-exploration. The curriculum includes readings such as “The Gender Binary is a Tool of White Supremacy” by Kravitz Marshall and “How Drag Villains Became the Far Right’s Ultimate Villains” by Colleen Hamilton. Students will also examine drag pedagogy, queer childhoods, and the role of drag queens and organizations like the Christian hate-group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
A noteworthy aspect of the course is the requirement for each student to create and perform a one-to-two-minute drag act, which will be recorded and shared at TCU’s Annual Night of Drag. Allegedly, the class aims to foster creativity, critical thinking, and a deeper appreciation for the “art form of drag”, while also exploring its social and cultural significance.
The introduction of this course at TCU reflects a growing acceptance and recognition of drag, which is being presented as an “art form”. The Texas GOP criticized the course in a letter and email sent to supporters of the course, highlighting the irony that a course with obvious anti-Christian background is offered at a Christian university. “If Christian schools are promoting these sexually explicit courses, just imagine what the secular schools are promoting!”, said the letter.