The American Dream is heteronormative and discriminatory: heterosexual, white, married, and Christian. This image is deemed “natural,” and everything else is regarded as less desirable and less “natural.” However, our identities are not “natural” but a collective social act. The art of drag unapologetically points this out and celebrates the constructed-ness of identity: a drag queen can pick an identity du jour and put on makeup, a wig, an outfit, and a persona. In this sense, drag is as American Dream as a suburban house surrounded by a white picket fence—both are equally arbitrary. For the queer community, drag performance is more than entertainment in a nightclub: it is a way of expressing, dreaming, commenting, and escaping exclusionary and crippling reality. For many, doing drag is the only way of achieving their dreams, however short-lived. It is a way to survive. “Drag is not a means of destruction but of rescue—a little beauty, however perverse and rococo.”
Set in New York in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis, my project “Our Village”—a waterfront commune inspired by the concept of chosen families in drag houses—offers a safe haven for queer cultures and queer communities that have been excluded from heteronormative society. The project explores an architecture that deconstructs and reconstructs heteronormative identities to demonstrate their artificiality and celebrate queerness, creating a new face for the American Dream.