Femme and Fantasy


Queer people love fantasy. That blanket statement may not be entirely true, but I, as a queer person, love fantasy. There’s something so enticing about magic and inhuman creatures, the aesthetics of elves and dragons and sword fighting. There’s certainly something about escapism into fantasy worlds, for certain. Fantasy hasn’t always been the most queer-friendly genre, especially considering a lot of the classic, aggressively heterosexual examples that populated many of our childhoods. However, queerness in fantasy (and science fiction) dates back to Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando” from 1928, which featured a queer relationship and a transgender character. But what really introduced queerness into the fantasy genre were Tolkien and “Lord of the Rings”. While not overtly queer, there’s certainly a lot of queer subtext in a lot of the books, particularly noticeable in Frodo and Sam’s relationship. 

Today, thankfully, the fantasy genre has become a lot more welcoming for queer stories and characters. The past decade has seen authors such as NK Jemisin, Nisi Shawl, Rebecca Roanhorse, Rivers Solomon, and many more who have stories including and centering on queer characters and relationships, and arguably more important, on non-white queer characters particularly.

For myself, my love of fantasy comes more from tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons and the shows surrounding it, such as Critical Role. While these were my reintroduction to the fantasy genre as a young adult, my interest has certainly grown from there. For a lot of my more fantastical or magical-inspired drag looks, I play into the fantasy elements that come with creatures from worlds like Tolkein’s or Gygax’s (the original creator of D&D). I draw a lot of inspiration from fantasy for a lot of what I create.


The look featured in this post is what I wore to the Michigan Renaissance Festival a few weeks back. My inspiration for it came from D&D, specifically the tiefling creatures who are half-demon spawns. There’s a certain safety I find in painting myself to look a ridiculous color or simply not even look human, because even if I play into being a more femme version of myself, I don’t have to be under the constraints of being something cis or “normal”. Walking around the Renaissance Festival, where many people were dressed up in similar, bizarre costumes like mine, my drag felt like it fit right in with the scene. 

Pinball McQueen

Pinball McQueen is a drag artist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They describe themselves as a colorful, chaotic drag nuisance and what happens when you straddle the line of clown, horror demon, and a former theatre kid. They use their drag as an art of personal expression and as a way to talk about queerness as it relates to pop culture, history, classic art, literature, and many other things.

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