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.[1][2][3] 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.[3][4]

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.[3]

Drag families feature heavily in the 1990 drag ball documentary Paris Is Burning (which inspired Madonna's "Vogue"), with the House of Xtravaganza and the House of LaBeija among those featured.[2]

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  1. "Meet the Winners of Drag Race 100 Years Ago" by Knapp, Francky on Published May 28, 2019 by Cabinet of Chic Curiosities. (Archived on 2022-01-16)
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Our History" on <>. Published by House of Labeija. (Archived on 2022-01-16)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Vogue Ball: Houses, Hunties, Mothers and Fathers" by Coopey, Ellis on <>. Published by Contact. (Archived on 2022-01-16)
  4. "Underground Ball Culture" on <>. Published by Haenfler. (Archived on 2022-01-16)