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    The History of Wigs in LGBTQ Culture



    Happy Pride Month!


    Wigs have played a significant role in LGBTQ+ culture throughout history. From drag queens to transgender individuals, wigs have been used as a tool for self-expression and identity. In this blog, I will explore the history of wigs in LGBTQ+ culture and their evolution over time.


    When Did Wig Wearing Become a Part of the LGBTQ+ Community?

    Wigs themselves have been around for centuries but became popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. During this time, wigs were worn by both men and women as a symbol of wealth and status.

    In the early 1990s, many gay men wore wigs to conceal their hair loss from chemotherapy treatments. Wearing a wig was seen as a way to maintain an outward appearance of masculinity while undergoing treatment for illnesses such as cancer or AIDS.

    Like the wearing of wigs, the practice of cross-dressing has been around for centuries, but it wasn't until the 20th century that cross-dressing became more mainstream within the LGBTQ+ community. The term "drag queen" originated from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in which two characters dressed up as women to trick others into believing they were women in order to get revenge on someone who wronged them. It wasn't until the 1950s that drag queens began performing on stage at nightclubs where they developed their own unique style and personality through makeup, costumes, dance moves and more.



    Drag Queens and Their Wigs

    Drag queens have been using wigs as a part of their performances since the early 1900s. In the 1950s and 60s, drag queens like Divine and RuPaul popularized wigs to transform themselves into their drag personas. Wigs allowed drag queens to create exaggerated and glamorous looks that were essential to their performances.

    Drag queens are not the only people who wear wigs for fun—wearing a wig is a great way to change your look without permanently changing your hair. And it's not just for Halloween: many people wear wigs on a daily basis because they work, or they just want to add some flair to an otherwise dull hairstyle.


    Wear a wig aka hair system and make a fashion statement!


    Wigs are also used by transgender people who want to transition from one gender identity to another. For example, some transgender women may choose to wear wigs made of synthetic fibres so that they look more like women than men (or vice versa). Wigs can be used for this purpose because they give people the opportunity to experiment with different identities without having any permanent effects on their bodies or minds.

    Wigs can help transgender individuals achieve the look they desire and feel more confident in their appearance.

    Who would have thought the history of wigs in LGBTQ+ culture is a long one? The first recorded instance of a wig being worn by a transgender person dates back to 17th century England when King Charles II disguised himself as a woman to escape an assassination attempt. It's easy to see why wigs would be so appealing to someone trying to blend into the crowd: they're versatile, easy to wear, and create an entirely new persona without needing any makeup or other accessories (and they're much less likely than modern prosthetic to be seen through).

    Since then, wigs have been used by numerous individuals across the globe who wanted to disguise themselves as members of another gender or sexual orientation. In 19th-century Japan, geishas often wore elaborate wigs made out of real human hair; this was done because it was believed that wearing such elaborate pieces would make them seem more feminine and thus increase their value as entertainers.

    The Evolution of Wigs

    Wigs have come a long way since their inception. Even the name has taken a more trendy outlook with tags such as hair systems and hair replacements. Today, wigs are made from synthetic hair, human hair, or a blend of both. They are available in a variety of styles, colours, and lengths, making it easier for people to find a wig that suits them.

    Wigs are still a popular form of self-expression today and have played a pivotal role in the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. The history of wigs dates back to Ancient Greece, where they were used to repress and cover one's true identity. In fact, many attribute their modern usage in the drag community to this ancient Greek tradition. Wigs and their usage in the queer community have changed over time, with a variety of styles ranging from those found at a costume store to custom-made creations found only in speciality shops. Today, wigs continue to be used as a form of expression for members of the queer community and hold significant historical value within LGBTQ+ culture.


    - What hairstyles can you find in the LGBTQ community?

    - The hair loss experience of a transgender woman

    - Why do gay men and black women understand me better?



    Ray is a guest contributor to our blogs with an extensive background in PR. Ray loves to discuss his own hair system journey by offering insights into wearing and styling a hair system as well as providing observations on the role of hair in sexual and gender identity from an LGBTQ+ perspective. Be sure to check out more of Ray’s Diversity content.



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