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Sexual Orientation and Burlesque

The Dirty Word

by The Irresistible O

One would think that in the field of burlesque sex and the discussion of it would be welcome but this may not always be the case.  In the year of 2016 there is open discussion about all things LGBT  as well as openly gay celebrities but in the burlesque world sex and sexual orientation is still somewhat of a dirty word.  Why is this the case you may ask?  Perhaps the answer to this and many other questions lies in pondering why humans readily embrace some things and people and not others: Normally that which is deemed different is looked at with suspicion and approached with caution; as is the case with the LGBT or queer performer in burlesque.  

At the onset those who decide to perform burlesque are told that burlesque is one big glittering family and that all body types and characteristics are welcome.  One only has to be in the world of burlesque for a short time to see that this may not always be the case.  While many well known burlesque performers may carry the torch for campaigns like body issues, self hatred, and body hate, they are markedly more quiet on issues of race and sexual orientation. When race and sexuality are approached and asked to be spoken out about by those who vehemently rally against bodily discrimination, all talks may diminish or downright cease.  The lack of discussion within the burly world about said topics has left a gaping hole within the community and left members of the sparkly tribe feeling alienated and misunderstood; those who happen to be both minority and LGBTQ even more so.  

Sexuality and talks of it may not be seeing many advances in the burlesque world due to its being seen as a kind of 'it's none of my business' idea with performers.  While it is acceptable to ask a person's method of adhering sequins to a bra is may not be seen as good taste to inquire as to a person's sexual orientation.  Most people view sex and who is in whomever's bed as their own person information and matter. Another reason sexual orientation and gender may not come onto the proverbial burlesque stage is that some see it as too big of an issue to tackle. Let's face it, burlesquers still haven't even come to any type of agreement as to whether burlesque is stripping let alone whether it's okay to come to a workshop deemed for females if you were not born genetically female.

While the reasonings behind why sexual orientation is not more openly learned about and undertaken may seem small it can be assured that the issue of it is not.  The lack of acceptance of LGBT performers in the burlesque community creates an unnecessary divide, when in reality we are all here to make beautiful art, no matter who is in our bed.  With the Supreme Court ruling in support of same sex marriage perhaps it is time for burlesque to open its arms wider to its LGBT artists.  After all, burlesque is about society, what makes it and shapes it, and performing about it.  And LGBT artists are definitely a part of society, whether the burlesque world as a subset of the world  wants to acknowledge and deal with it or not.

Thank you,

Contact Email: [email protected]

This Article was published in the Burlesque Bitch Ezine on Feb 19, 2016.
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