Hughes: "Organization of Colored Erotopaths," October 1893

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"an annual convocation of men called the drag dance"

In a note to an 1893 medical journal article on "erotopathia," or "morbid eroticism," Dr. Charles H. Hughes of St. Louis writes briefly but emotionally about Black male cross-dressers. Because it is difficult to distinguish in his comment between urban and racist sexual myth and description of urban custom, it would be valuable to try to find newspaper reports of the type of drag ball described with such relish by the doctor.

I am credibly informed that there is, in the city of Washington, D.C., an annual convocation of men called the drag dance, which is an orgie of lascivious debauchery beyond pen power of description. I am likewise informed that a similar organization was lately suppressed by the police of New York city.

In this sable performance of sexual perversion all of these men are lasciviously dressed in womanly attired, short sleeves, low-necked dresses and the usual ballroom decorations and ornaments of women, feathered and ribboned head-dresses, garters, frills, flowers, ruffles, etc., and deport themselves as women. Standing or seated , but accessible to all the rest, is the naked queen (a male), whose phallic member, decorated with a ribbon, is subject to the gaze and osculations in turn, of all the members of this lecherous gang of sexual perverts and phallic fornicators.

Among those who annually assemble in this strange libidinous display are cooks, barbers, waiters and other employes of Washington families, some even higher in the social scale -- some being employed as subordinate in the Government departments.[1]


  1. [Charles H. Hughes], "Postscript to Paper on 'Erotopathia,' -- An Organization of Colored Erotopaths." Alienist and Neurologist (St. Louis, MO), volume 14, number 4 (October, 1893), pp. 731-32.. Dr. Hughes' paper titled "Erotopathia -- Morbid Eroticism" is in the same issue of the Alienst and Neurologist, pp. 531-78. References to an "androgynous" band of Blacks raided by the police in Washington, D.C., and to a New Orleans "vadoux" society are in Rosse (see), pp. 802, 805-07.

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