Ballroom culture originated in parts of New York in the 1970s. These events involved owning the runway in the finest drag around in order to wow the judges and go home with a clutch of trophies. This was where the concept of the 'drag' mother took hold. Experienced queens would take up-and-coming drag artists under their wing to show them how to work a stage as well as their look. They often provided a home to youngsters who may be going through a difficult time in their lives, and not just those intending to enter the drag world.
This led to drag mothers becoming known as the head of their House, making them responsible for an entire drag family. Whatever the mother's surname, their drag children were allowed to adopt it, or even have their stage name chosen for them by their mother.