Cross-dressing boys occur in many cultures, including the dancing boys in some localized Islamic traditions, such as in Afghanistan.
There are Youtube clips of such dancing boys available, although I thought it best not to embed them, since some of it seems sexualized (although
highly stylized) and it will just inflame Islamophobia.
I'm also not sure if the boys have a choice in the matter.
Here the tradition seems to stem from cultures that are so gender segregated that women cannot provide entertainment in homosocial male spaces, and
the role of the female dancer is thus performed by an adolescent boy.
I guess this is similar to Shakepseare's time, when all the female roles were performed by boys, because women were not allowed on the stage.
How much this actually has to do with homosexuality is questionable.
As for the US camp, the information is very sketchy, so I couldn't say I agree or disagree.
I certainly wish camps like this were around in my childhood, although I would never have been allowed to go.
Although SA back then was very militarized with a macho patriarchy (homosexuality was taboo), there was opportunity to get into drag on stage, and
nobody thought it was anything other than theater or comic relief.
I would be very against it if any boy is forced into wearing a dress or forced to partake.
I'd also be against it if it furthers the kind of catty, stereotypical femininity of highly competitive all-girl pageants (which come uncomfortably
close to flirtatious sexuality).
Gender non-conformity in childhood is certainly a factor in people who turn out gay or lesbian, however that can be a very constant and at times
subtle trait, and there's no evidence that either forbidding or vindicating it will make any difference.
Drag is really a form of theater, and female clothing is more fun as a costume (male garments have been quite drab since the Victorians in Western
culture, not-withstanding some subcultures like glam-rock, hair-metal or make-up laden televangelists).
As theatrics that are confined to a certain time or space, drag then also re-inscribes the boundaries of wider gender norms.
That is, by confining the event to a camp there's also a realization that it is not the wider norm.
Sure, drag will inflame some people, but so will nudist camps or Jesus camps.
I doubt all these kids will grow up to be gay or even straight transvestites (like Peter Humphries /Dame Edna).
That would be like saying that all Boy Scouts will turn out to be uniform fetishists, or all kids that are spanked will turn out sado-masochists.
Ironically, the dominant theme in Western gay erotica is actually a form of hyper-masculinity, although this is rarely examined as a gender
It's a pity though that inclusive cultural spaces seemingly no longer exist where this can be seen as a bit of theatrical fun, rather than framed in
terms of adult lgbt politics.
But I'd really have to understand the cultural context of the participants to make a judgement on that.
If the culture is so conservative that no expression of drag is allowed, then one could understand the need for a camp.
edit on 18-7-2013 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)