THE BLOG
12/03/2013 03:48 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

These Boots Were Made for Talking: Continuing the Macy's Parade Kinky Boots Discussion

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

While an admittedly commercial enterprise, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is also a fairly innocuous one. Taking this into account, when I woke on Thanksgiving morning, the long-standing New York City event was the very last item I expected to draw ire in a day full of plucky relatives and over-eating.

However, for some deranged reason, I forgot that the extent of human ignorance knows no bounds, and by the parade's end, I was witness to a social media frenzy over people who were simply enraged that they had to explain drag queens to their children... because heaven forbid you actually have to talk to your kids.

However, I digress. The incident in question that set Twitter users a-tweetin' was a performance by the cast of the current Broadway smash (and Tony Award winner) Kinky Boots. The show, for those not familiar, concerns a boot-factory C.E.O. who teams with a drag queen to revitalize his failing business, and ultimately, the whole town it employs. The story, in addition to being a wonderful parable about being oneself and tolerance, also happens to be a true one.

It's an empowering tale that can truly be applied to many situations, and inspire those who feel like outsiders to reach beyond their comfort zone, as well as encourage others to connect with the aforementioned outsider to create a better world. Yes, the story employs the use of drag characters, but they aren't the saucy queens of RuPaul's Drag Race (though, I love those girls, too). Their presence in the story is meant more as a symbol than a shock. As the audience, we are asked to step outside of ourselves, and realize that, in some way, we're all these queens. It's not really a story about drag at all, but about finding comfort with yourself and the world around you.

Of course, communicating that message in a truncated five-minute performance on national television probably lost a little something in translation. As such, conservative and righteous individuals took to the internet in a much-publicized maelstrom to communicate their livid displeasure that the once family-friendly parade was marching drag queens in front of their families.

This is the same parade, by the way, that so notoriously celebrates and features iconic cartoon characters. You know, like Bugs Bunny, who, in case you forgot, often wore a dress to confuse Elmer Fudd. But there I go digressing again.

Humor aside, I suppose I understand the argument being presented here. Whether you're pro-gay or not, the idea that maybe this isn't the platform for drag is the real point of the matter. Personally, I have zero issue with the performance, and it has nothing to do with my sexual orientation, but rather is due to the fact that I understand the message of compassion inherent in the show. Furthermore, I think anything that prompts a discussion in the home is a good thing, especially if it might help an individual out there who is struggling to find a voice to speak up.

However, I'm no stranger to these kinds of argumentative conflicts, and I know full-well that the crux of many of the deriders here is simply boiled down to the fact that they don't want to have to explain that some boys dress like girls to their family, because in some confused sense of morality, it's "wrong."

To the people that have an issue with LGBT individuals, whether they do drag or not, there is very little I can say here, because they are already resolute in the fact that our lifestyle exists to undermine theirs (Spoiler alert: It doesn't). To see men dressed in feminine clothing presents, in their mind, a dangerous counter to the imposed masculinity of their little boys watching at home, and the mere idea that their sons could have questions about what they see is what sews the seeds of a perceived threat.

But, I submit that by turning this into an issue of offense, instead of "protecting" our sons, we are not only doing societal damage to them, but even more so, to their sisters and other little girls watching.

It is a well-documented fact that I am acquainted with a number of drag queens, and while I don't wear women's clothes or dress in drag myself, I don't have a problem with the boys who do. Furthermore, if I'm out shopping and I see a jacket or shirt that was made for a woman, but I like the cut or style, I'm going buy that article of clothing. You see, like Iggy Pop, I don't have a problem with the idea of "dressing like a girl," because I don't think there's anything wrong with being a girl.

Do you catch my drift, here?

If you're causing a stir at home because seeing a man in a dress somehow "insults" your idea of masculinity, what you're communicating to your son is that a boy who dresses like a girl is somehow "less than." Furthermore, while you're imparting that message to your son, you're also revealing to your daughter that, by virtue of being a girl, she is "less than." After all, if you're sitting there making a big deal about how much lower or lesser a man dressed as a woman is than you, you're indirectly suggesting there must be something about women that makes "less than," and that, dear reader, is far more wrong than any man in high heels.

So, pro-gay/pro-drag or not, before you fly into a righteous rage that will likely cause far more confusion than the song-and-dance number itself, use this moment as a tool for learning and discussion. If you have your concerns over whether what your children see is going to confuse them, I promise you that most of the boys who saw the show, even if they have questions, are not going to dress in drag, and those who do were going to do it anyway. Furthermore, show your daughter that she is every bit the fabulous creation she deserves to be. No one deserves to grow up thinking they are less than a singular wonder.

In the wake of the Thanksgiving season, remember that was the message behind Kinky Boots in the first place: to be thankful for who we are and celebrate the differences that make us unique but bring us together.

And if, after all that, you're still in a griping mood and remain unconvinced, then what I'm thankful for is that you complained in the first place, because the ticket sales for that show are skyrocketing.

Happy Holidays.