No, 'Kid-Friendly' Drag Shows Are Not Comparable to Cheerleaders

AP Photo/Donna McWilliam

As a guy constantly arguing about the disgusting and pedophilic nature of “kid-friendly” drag shows, I get all kinds of ridiculous responses from its defenders. One of the arguments they tend to throw out from time to time goes something like this:


“If short skirts and panties bother you then you must have some really negative things to say about cheerleaders.”

The truth is, I don’t. Cheerleaders are a time-honored tradition in sports that, according to its history, was actually started somewhat spontaneously and by a University of Minnesota medical student named Johnny Campbell who began leading the crowds in a chant for his team back in the 1890s.

Naturally, this would evolve to watching pretty girls lead chants and get the crowd moving as one for their team. Cheerleading and sports go hand-in-hand so much that professional sports teams have their own cheerleaders, and at one point, cheerleading became its own sport, and rightfully so.

Drag in shows has actually been around a lot longer, with instances being recorded back in the 1500s as men would play women in theatrical shows since women weren’t allowed to participate in drama or theater. However, these weren’t the “drag shows” we know today. The first recorded drag show that features LGBT sexualization occurred later in Harlem in 1920. This would evolve with the times with RuPaul’s drag race being a hit television show and would devolve into the “kid-friendly” drag shows we see now.

Both involve shorter skirts or sometimes form-fitting clothing. Both involve dancing and moving. Both have choreographic routines that involve music. Both involve makeup and sometimes extensions in the hair.


But that’s more or less where the similarities stop. The contrasts, however, couldn’t be more night and day.

Let’s first take a look at a drag show dancer, shall we?

This was a drag performance that took place at an elementary school back in 2019, captured by a concerned mother that had snuck in to get footage of what they were showing children. As you can see here, there’s stripping, gyration, suggestion, and even some profanity at the end.

Now let’s take a look at arguably the most famous cheerleading squad in America, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, performing their signature routine they do before every game while at a convention.

Right off the bat, you can see some major differences. For starters, the purpose of the drag performance was to be sexual and provocative in nature. The outfit chosen by the drag performer is better suited to a burlesque show, and indeed, his “routine” involves some poorly executed burlesque moves. Most of his performance involves badly lip-syncing to a song while standing around in knee-high high heels boots.

The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders also have outfits that show off skin, but looking closely at the uniforms you’ll see outfits built for function while looking like fashion. The leggings allow for greater freedom of movement to facilitate the high amount of legwork the team does. Their blouses, while incorporating cleavage, do not move out of place and allow for less heat-trapping. The baggy sleeves and star-spangled vest play into a “cowgirl” costume as do the boots which are very lightweight and soft-soled like dancing shoes.


The drag performer is there to use provocative dancing and revealing outfits as a way to make a socio-political statement, and that statement is extra loud since he’s doing all of this in front of children. There’s not a lot of skill involved. In fact, I’d say there’s no skill being displayed here. He’s doing this because it’s scratching his itch to be seen in this way and he knows it’s going to upset people he hates, which I’m willing to bet is anyone who remotely disagrees with his lifestyle.

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are a high-energy dance troupe that displays skills both in gymnastics and dancing. They memorize routines and move as one with near-pinpoint perfection. Their outfits do have an element of sexiness to them, but they’re also there to serve an actual athletic purpose that allows them to perform to the utmost ability of their craft. Any moves that drift near provocative territory only serve to highlight the form and don’t stay there long.

But the greatest difference of all is that the Cowboys Cheerleaders are women and the drag queen is not.

A drag queen is a man posing as a woman. He doesn’t have the natural feminine draw and as much as he tries, he’ll never fully mimic it. There will always be a masculine element that makes his attempt at dancing like a woman look unnatural and even gross. It will always be viewed as off-brand because the real McCoy has features that go all the way down to the bones, and he will never have these things.


These women in the squad, however, move with a balance of femininity and power. Their high kicks could probably take your head off, but it also serves to accentuate and reveal the natural beauty of women. Men love it because we’re naturally drawn to this beauty and women love it because it allows them to display that feminine lure and move with the force naturally given to them as true females.

So no. Cheerleading, be it a high school squad or a major league performance troupe, are not comparable. That’s like saying a baby and a parasite are comparable.

They aren’t.



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