Murray Hill thinks it's time for guys like him to "get a little face time" -- and by guys like him, he means drag kings.
While drag queens have gained notoriety in the United States, largely due to TV shows like "RuPaul's Drag Race," drag kings -- a term that refers to people, usually those assigned female at birth, who play with masculinity by portraying themselves as men with the help of clothes, makeup and more -- have yet to enjoy the same kind of spotlight.
No reality competition show exists solely for drag kings, and they aren't booked in bars and clubs as often as drag queens.
"We're getting there, kid," Hill told "Good Morning America" in a sit-down interview, adding that this segment of the drag community has a rich and deep history -- and they're ready for their close-up.
Drag kings then and now
Hill, who has been doing drag in New York City since the 1990s, and now hosts Hulu's "Drag Me to Dinner," said there have been male impersonators "since the beginning of time."
Though their roots reach further back, Jen Manion, a professor of history and sexuality, women's and gender studies at Amherst College, specializing in LGBTQ history, specifically pointed to the 1600s as an early emergence of the art form.
"You have women who are asked to dress as men and often play the roles of boys or young men, and everyone in the theater knows that they're actually women playing the role of men," they said about women in the English theater who dressed in breeches as men.
“So the idea that this is a form of entertainment that people love and elevate has been with us for a long time,” Manion, who is also the author of “Female Husbands: A Trans History,” told GMA.
Hill said what started as "a coping mechanism" for him eventually became a "full career."
"I learned kind of early on that making jokes and making people feel comfortable and laughing together was literally the opposite of hate," he said.
Hill said he didn't see drag kings when he first arrived in New York City, but saw an "emergence" of drag queens when he attended Wigstock, an annual outdoor drag festival held downtown. His visit made him think, "What's on the other side of this gender spectrum?"
"If you don't see yourself represented, go out and represent yourself," he said. "So I kind of became what I didn't see."
Landon Cider, an L.A.-based drag king who won season 3 of "Dragula," another competition reality show for drag performers, said he uses drag as a way of showing "gender expression through theatrical experiences."
"Being a drag king is how I harnessed my performances and all [of] my stories," he said.
Manion pointed to Hill as an example of "how smart and funny and entertaining and campy and political drag kings can be."
"People take masculinity very seriously ... and drag kings expose that," they said.
"What the kings do is not just say, 'I want that, I'm going to take that,' but they do it in really sophisticated, creative, sometimes comedic, sometimes political ways to really expose to the viewer how outrageous gender norms are, and really denaturalize and destabilize our assumptions about who can access masculinity, who can tap into it, who can express it," Manion said.
D.C.-based drag king King Molasses said drag is an art form used to "navigate our emotions, our traumas [and] life at large."
"It's a way that we live, it's a way that we grieve, and it's a way that we relate to each other," they said. "I'm not a drag king because I want to be a man or I want to present in a masculine or sort of strong-conditioned way; I'm a king because when I first saw drag kings perform, I felt connected."
For Hill, there's no distinct separation between who he is in and out of drag.
"I used to think, 'Oh, I'm one person as a persona and I'm one person when I'm not on stage.' I used to think of it as two different entities," he said. "It's the same person. It's the same heart. It's the same feeling."
Hill added, "But really, the big difference is tracksuits during the day, three-piece suits at night."
The current reign of drag kings
Hill's childhood dream to be on TV has certainly been realized. He's currently hosting Hulu's "Drag Me to Dinner," a reality competition show executive produced by Neil Patrick Harris and husband David Burtka. In the series, drag queen duos see who can throw the best -- and most wacky -- dinner party -- a job he said allowed him to break "the queer, trans, drag king glass ceiling."
On top of that, Hill also stars on HBO's "Somebody Somewhere," telling "GMA" he takes "great personal responsibility" in playing Fred, a soil scientist and good friend to Bridget Everett and Jeff Hiller's characters.
"He's just like everybody else in the show. So I really think that's groundbreaking to have a character that is treated like all the other characters," he said. "So many queer stories, they're sad or depressing or traumatic, so it was so wonderful to get to play Fred, a trans character, as a three-dimensional person."
Hill said he's going to use the platform he's been given on television to "bring other people up from the community so we can all enjoy exposure; we can all enjoy representation."
With "Dragula," Cider said he felt the "heavy burden" of "representing an entire community," but he was down for the challenge.
"I was ready to be that person," he said. "I was ready to take on the responsibilities but also to always remind people that I don't accurately represent the whole community. I only can do me … and hopefully, the space that I am taking up will encourage people to look up more kings and to find kings in their area and to support the local drag kings."
But drag kings aren't only gaining ground on television.
The Drag Queen of the Year Pageant, co-founded in 2019 by "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars" season 2 winner Alaska and fellow drag queen Lola LeCroix, prides itself on welcoming all forms of drag to compete.
They've even crowned a drag king -- Chicago-based king Tenderoni, who took the crown in 2021.
"Anyone who really knows our community knows that drag has always been a place for a wide array of different types of artists to express themselves," Alaska said, adding that "Tenderoni showed up and kicked a--."
"Honestly, I think it's harder to embody a masculine-presenting character on stage," Alaska added. "There's much more subtlety and nuance involved in embodying masculinity, and then to make it compelling on stage on top of that is very impressive."
Tenderoni said being able to compete in the pageant showed that "professional drag entertainment is not limited to one style" and that taking home the crown gave his career "a huge boost."
"Visibility as a drag king is hard to come by in this queen-dominated industry, and winning the pageant helped me break through that stronghold," he said. "I am forever grateful to Lola and Alaska for creating this platform and giving me the chance to share my art with the world."
Uplifting drag kings, instilling hope for the future
Hill, who has been doing drag since the 1990s, said he's seen a "huge evolution" throughout his career.
As for how fans can support the community, "it's literally just supporting them," he said. You can follow them on social media, buy their merch or go to their shows.
Hill also said it's important to speak out when you hear people with prejudices and to educate them "that queer people are not the enemy." This, he said, is the "most important thing" you can do.
Cider said that despite his success on television, he still has to "fight for every gig" as a king.
"Every opportunity, when possible, I also remind people that I don't have to be the only drag king on the bill," he added. "You can have multiple kings on a cast."
Cider also encouraged fans of drag to "be an ally" and speak up when attending a show that has no kings in the cast.
Despite the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation this year, largely focused on the transgender community, but also the drag community, these drag kings said they refuse to be pessimistic about the future.
"What's going on now, we're forgetting the humanity of everybody," Hill said. "I am you. You are me. We're all the same. [We've] got to deal with that as a country and as a society. We're all people. That's it."
Hill said he won't let the hate and discrimination he sees and feels deter him.
"I work very hard every day to turn anger into action," he said, adding that he reminds himself that it's "the small minority of voices" that are "getting the loudest attention."
"Drag isn't scary or really that serious. It's about connection -- with the audience, with myself, with the music, with nostalgia," King Molasses said. "Drag is art. Art is life. It's that simple."
"We are one community," Cider said. "We're experiencing the same things, and we will win. We will move past this."
Hill's game plan for combating hate?
"If I come across somebody that wants to hate me or hates drag or hates trans people, I'm like, 'Hey, let's go have a cup of coffee, get to know each other,'" he said. "And I can guarantee you we're going to be friends at the end of it."