Cirrus’s Book Club: Drag Queen, by Jeffery Self

While Comsie is away wrestling with an army of small children, the rest of us have to keep things ticking over here. So it’s time for another review!

As you might guess from the title – this book is very gay.

JT lives in Clearwater, Florida. He has a loud best friend called Heather, and gorgeous boyfriend called Seth that JT thinks is way out of his league. But he won’t be able to attend college without a scholarship, and the alternative is being trapped in Clearwater forever, working at his parents’ gas station. Then Seth springs a surprise on JT – a beauty pageant for teenage drag queens, with a college scholarship as first prize.

JT is more than reluctant. His one drag queen performance, at his high school talent show, ended in disaster and humiliation, and he’s been too traumatized to try it in public again since. But with no other options for escaping Clearwater, JT agrees to enter, and he, Heather and Seth hit the road.

It’s road trip book, filled with the usual setbacks and unexpected encounters (a drag queen at a small town bar in the rural south, a former country and western singing star), before JT reaches the show itself. It’s a bit of a “message book”. JT isn’t thrilled by the way he looks, and envies Seth’s ability to fit in as the “popular gay kid”. But drag is portrayed as a way to discover who you are by becoming someone else. It’s also a fascinating behind the scenes look at what goes into being a drag queen.

I think it’s a sign of maturity in the market for GLBTI young adult novels that books are starting to appear that go beyond “realising you’re gay and what to do about it” and “boy meets boy”, to the stories that come after. There’s a whole world of terrain that hasn’t really been explored yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.