Despite what recent fearmongers want you to think, drag is not new. For centuries, people — both straight and from across the queer spectrum — have crossed fashion’s gender binaries for pleasure and performance. Just ask Shakespeare! His all male casts donned wigs, makeup, and dresses to tell some of the greatest love stories known to history.
Drag is and always has been an art form, a means of self-expression, and a thriving form of entertainment for all ages; it is a gift to the world and the queer community. The books below highlight the beauty and struggle of the drag world and how we can better celebrate and empower it.
Icon. Global sensation. Mother. These are just a few words to describe the revolutionary power of RuPaul, whose show RuPaul’s Drag Race has delighted and inspired countless people worldwide. GuRu is written with RuPaul’s signature mix of charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent that has made her the most beloved drag queen in a generation.
Life as a Unicorn: A Journey from Shame to Pride and Everything in Between
by Amrou Al-Kadhi
Home Alone changes lives. That fact was inarguably true for Amrou Al-Kadhi, who, much to their parent’s dismay, fell in love with Macaulay Culkin at first sight — not that we blame them. That moment became the first step in a long journey from God-fearing Muslim boy to queer drag queen in towering heels. Both hilarious and challenging, Al-Kadhi’s memoir reminds us that even our most scattered pieces, when assembled with love, can become something beautiful.
The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish
by Lil Miss Hot Mess
Illustrated by Olga de Dios Ruiz
Fun colors, fancy names, and beautiful illustrations. What more could you want from a children’s book? Written to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus,” The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish follows a group of drag queens as they spread joy and color through the town — a perfect read for bedtime or at your local drag queen story hour.
The Big Reveal
by Sasha Velour
Memoir meets history meets art in this vibrant work from legendary drag queen Sasha Velour. This unique manifesto combines original illustrations and photographs with Velour’s stories of her youth and career, as well as the rich queer history that made it all possible. Velour reveals (pun intended) that drag is more than a performance — it’s an act of queer liberation.
Trixie & Katya’s Guide to Professional Womanhood
by Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova
Sashay your way to the greatest business advice you never knew you needed. Covering everything from interview outfits to retirement to whether you’re the “office slut” (good for you), Trixie and Katya’s savvy and satirical guide will leave you laughing and smarter. After all, if these queens can take on the world in six-inch heels and even taller wigs, why can’t you?
Queer Maximalism X Machine Dazzle
by Elissa Auther, Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, David Román, Taylor Mac, Madison Moore
A good drag look is so much more than bold lipstick and the right amount of silicone. Few know this better than theatrical genius and designer Machine Dazzle, the artist behind some of the biggest names in cabaret, drag, and performance art. Collected here for the first time, readers can enjoy his extravagant stage sets and creations alongside essays and career photos. It is the perfect chef’s kiss to his motto: more is better.
The Black Flamingo
by Dean Atta
Told in poetic verse, The Black Flamingo is a stunning young adult debut about finding your voice in a world that wants to keep you silent. Michael, a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London, longs to be enough of something. When he discovers the drag society at his university, he also finds a new side of himself — and the Black Flamingo is born.
The Art of Drag
by Jake Hall, Sofie Birkin, Helen Li, and Jasjyot Singh Hans
Much like a perfect lipsync, this book is a gag. Bright colors, mesmerizing artwork, and surprising history come together to tell the rich story of drag. Journalist Jake Hall tells it all, from mimes and Kabuki theatre to RuPaul and Dragula, with the help of incredible illustrations and a passion for all things queer. Much like the shade rattle during a blistering critique, this one will go fast — The Art of Drag is almost out of print!
Please note: The Art of Drag comes with an unattached spine. The pages lie flat so you can better enjoy the artwork!
No matter the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric that continues to spew, drag is not — and should never be — a crime. So, unlike those drab fearmongers, pick up a book, stay educated, and please tip your local drag queens. And remember, in the timeless words of the inimitable RuPaul, “We’re all born naked, and the rest is drag.”