Beauty blogger and YouTuber James Charles is being dragged by Twitter after misusing a phrase from drag culture.
The 19-year-old dropped a makeup tutorial on his channel last week (22 March) in which he misuses the phrase ‘[bring] the house down.’ Instead referring it to as ‘the house.’
As a result, many LGBTI Twitter users slammed the star, with one saying: ‘LGBTI community, I’m so sorry.’
What’s the problem here?
Charles posted a video in which he applies his makeup in alphabetical order.
But throughout the video, Charles gives a letter-by-letter breakdown of ‘Sister Speech.’
It’s essentially his own dictionary of phrases and words he and his fans use, such as ‘love that,’ ‘absolutely not,’ and ‘hi sisters.’
lgbt community i’m so sorry pic.twitter.com/4zAH9fDBdQ
— dani (@dcagiunta) March 25, 2019
But the tea of the situation is the letter T, in which Charles said stands for ‘The house.’
He says the phrase ‘is by far one of [his] favorite things to say right now.
‘I heard it from another YouTuber named Rich Lux. Basically, any time something is very else, you can say it is “the house.”
‘”The house” is the new best way to put emphasis on anything.’
However, queer Twitter was not impressed.
‘Someone forgot to tell him’
Firstly, the phrase itself is actually ‘the house down,’ not ‘the house.’
As one user defined it: ‘The house down: Another term used for exclamation point at the end of a sentence to indicate how extra fabulous something is.
‘E.g., “Kennedy is dancing the house down.”
‘Someone forgot to tell him there’s another word after house lmao.’
A history lesson
But others dragged the YouTuber for miscrediting the history of the phrase, which is neither ‘new’ nor from a fellow YouTuber.
One Twitter user schooled him: ‘As a gay person, I am disgusted.
‘The phrase is “the haus down boots” and was coined by the late, great Erica Andrews.
‘You’re gay, and whether I like it or not, a fairly famous gay guy. As representation for the community, you’re responsible for knowing your shit.’
While others feared the term will be misappropriated his Charles’ fanbase. As one put it: ‘If I hear a str8 white girl say “the house” and it’s cause of James Charles and not black trans women and drag culture….., I’m gonna go feral.’
Charles has not reacted to the dragging sessions going on on Twitter, but he did tweet yesterday (27 March): ‘Wow I keep forgetting to tweet I’m cancelled.’
Drag culture 101
From shade to werk, gag to sickening, so many words popular today have layered and rather sequinned histories.
Their etymologies – the origins of the words – are hard to pin down.
But rewinding here, the first recorded use of ‘drag’ in reference to actors dressed in traditionally women’s clothing dates back to 1870.
Soon, drag moved out of the corset-wearing pantomime dames of late 1800s European dramas to being tied to the LGBTI community.
Through female impersonators and vaudeville, drag became an art form both elegant and subversive.
But as time went on and crackdowns on LGBTI people grew, drag became more of underground culture than prime-time entertainment.
Nightclubs and underground ballrooms became the space of drag and gender non-conformity, alongside being intrinsic to the Stonewall Riots.
This culture had its own ‘dragtionary’ of queer colloqualisms and slang. 80s ball room drag culture in 1980s New York was a moment when many flourished.
Jumping to today, and drag is truly a celebrated part of LGBTI life. With RuPaul’s Drag Race helping to popularize drag and the vocabulary to modern audiences.