“Politician blames transvestite alter ego for sunny island freebie” shouts the headline at The Local. Apparently Swedish MP Fredrick Federley accepted an all-expenses-paid trip to Gran Canaria and then explained that though he usually refuses such gifts, he made an exception this time:
“Well, this was pretty much tied to my drag personality, Ursula. It’s not me as a member of parliament doing this; it’s more a case of me travelling as my drag personality.”
I find this incredibly interesting. What actually happened is of little consequence, though. I love that the idea, that a person can have multiple identities, an honest politician and a cheap bitchy diva, is being debated. Anyone who has been on stage with a less-than-honest character knows how multiple conflicting performative personalities work (I ran an award gala for larps in the late 90s where we encouraged bribing the judges to get awards).
It is also intriguing how this is written about internationally. Obviously Sweden has a bit of a reputation as a country where sexually weird things are accepted. Still, even the Local uses the word transvestite even though the MP clearly states that it is drag. And there is a world of difference between the two. Drag is a great way for anyone to be a bit playful with their personality. It can take place in the ambiguous and exciting hinterland between the magic circle of games or theatre and the ordinary. Drag (be it queens, kings, or bio), like burlesque, masquerades, role-playing games, theme parties and the like enables us to explore parts of ourselves that we may not be able to express in the everyday life.
In this case the Ursula personality apparently has been colonized for work, in other words it is just a stage act. That said, I’m pretty sure that “MP Federley” is at least as much a construction as “Ursula”.