When I came out and moved to Toledo, it was an ongoing joke whether you/your worldly goods were butch or femme. Some gay people had an expectation that a gay man should do drag sometime or other -- Hallowe'en if nothing else (I never did). It was simply part of the culture.
The Sparkle Spinsters -- L2R Duchess, Lee, and Vernon -- cling to this tradition -- even as they realize that gay visibility has grown to the point of attracting gay Ghetto tourism.
The role of gender dressing has changed greatly. In the 80s my understanding of cross dressing included cultural drag, as The Sparkle Spinsters are doing, and drag shows; transvestite, where dressing was part of a sexual experience; or transsexual, a person headed for a "sex change operation."
This omits today's view of transgender/gender identity, which is different and more complex. Let's just say that being the 1980s, the Spinsters are doing drag as a put-on of the stereotype. Okay, drag does have more meaning to Vernon than he lets on ..... we still have another 1000 strips before Vernon recognizes it.
It's a lot to cover in a 4-panel comic strip!