This past couple days has been very surreal, as far as Drag Race world is concerned. After the publication of RuPaul’s The Guardian interview, some readers where quick to mince his words and drew conclusions to suit their personal narrative, like passages of the Bible. Frankly, I was shocked, I had to read the interview a few more times just to see if I missed something. All of RuPaul’s responses where legit and valid, and I didn’t find anything malicious about it. It’s all honest and genuine. “Fans,” Drag Race alumni, and people who make a living – in part or seasonal – out of Drag Race chimed in, expressing their outrage in social media. It was outrageous! People calling RuPaul “transphobic” and “misogynistic” … It felt like a witch hunt! Many demanded an apology.
The outrage arise from these parts of the interview…
“In the subculture of drag you do occasionally find what are known as “bio queens” – biological women who mimic the exaggerated femininity of drag. Would RuPaul allow a biological woman to compete on the show? He hesitates. “Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture. So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.”” — The Guardian
Bio queens where quick to voice their disgust in social media, pointing out how badly they got hurt by RuPaul’s statements, which they view as a dismissal of their craft. Some felt left out, not being able to audition for the show.
“So how can a transgender woman be a drag queen? “Mmmm. It’s an interesting area. Peppermint didn’t get breast implants until after she left our show; she was identifying as a woman, but she hadn’t really transitioned.” Would he accept a contestant who had? He hesitates again. “Probably not. You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body. It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.””–The Guardian
Some transgender Drag Racers voiced their disappointments. And others accused RuPaul of trying to redefine “drag.”
“…as trans actress Alexandra Billings put it in a blunt note to RuPaul, “you did not invent drag; we did.””—Caroline Framke/Vox.com
Reading all the hate directed at RuPaul made me sad and pissed, to the point that it brought me to tears. RuPaul is an enlightened person, who has made huge contributions to the LGBT community, fighting for its’ causes, long before some of these angry mobsters were even born! Doesn’t he deserve some respect and consideration? I wasn’t surprise when some Drag Race alumni – who are not in good terms with the show or RuPaul – chimed in on the witch hunt, and sure, the media is going to capitalize on this misunderstanding, but the fans … how could they?
What is a drag?
The word “drag” was coined by Shakespear [not transgender folks], to “refers to the wearing of clothing of the opposite sex, and may be used as a noun as in the expression in drag, or as an adjective as in drag show.”–Wikipedia
What is a drag queen?
According to a definition by Google:drag queenˈdraɡ ˌkwēn/noun
- a man who dresses up in women’s clothes, typically for the purposes of entertainment.
So are we going to label Google transphobic? Or call Shakespeare a liar? Sure, many people now of all sorts of gender are doing drag, that’s great. But simply because many people do it doesn’t mean how it’s defined should conform right away.
What was all the fuss about?
RuPaul was asked about casting rules for RuPaul’s Drag Race - an LGBT reality TV show of his name sake about drag queens. He framed his answers within that very context … CASTING! From that standpoint (about the show’s criteria for casting), his answers were valid responses and not at all derogatory.
He didn’t set out to redefine drag or marginalize any forms of drag. Simply put, Drag Race is a gay reality TV show. Since bio queens are sometimes straight women who parodies drag… what are they trying to accomplish from their complaints? I’ve read comments about “equal opportunity” to audition for the show. So a gay show is going to make allowances for straight people (particularly women) to audition just because they can parody drag? Great, let’s change the acronym now too…. LGBTW – (W-straight women).
Half of the excitement of the show is watching the transformations of the contestants from man to a fabulous faux woman. A contestant who is already a woman, or has the physique of a woman (i.e. breast) … the other contestants will be at a disadvantage. Implants (hips, butt), plastic surgery … they don’t necessarily transform a contestant to look like a real woman. Men get those types of surgery too … even straight men! A real woman in drag minimize the thrill (on the show) … because they are already A WOMAN. Will viewers really respond the same way watching a woman transform into a … woman? Besides, there are already numerous prestigious pageants and contests (even bigger than Drag Race) that are dedicated only for women and trans, why pick on Drag Race? Think about that for a moment.
LAX / JFK ( @RuPaul )
You can take performance enhancing drugs and still be an athlete, just not in the Olympics. pic.twitter.com/HkJjzXzUGm
Let’s be serious. People want an all inclusive Drag Race. Ok, what about minors? Should they be allowed to audition too because they can do drag? What about the dead? Why not? They’re in drag when they’re in the casket. Sure! People who say “Thanks for this and that, but …” are traitors.
Maybe RuPaul is really right, the trans community takes gender really seriously. Lesbian, Gays and Bisexuals are still not out of the woods too, still marginalized, didn’t you know? In some countries we are all still prosecuted, no more, no less than the other … LGBT.
When you’re out for blood all the time, guess what? You’ll find blood. It will be easy to nitpick statements and make it all about you. So I say to this to some “fans” … Your critical thinking was way out of place. And if your feelings got hurt because of it, well, guess what? You can blame yourself for over-thinking, manufacturing issues that didn’t exist. RuPaul didn’t come for you, you’re not even gay!
Which is probably why some women can’t wrap their head around what RuPaul said, “So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.” Within the context of the show, a cis woman has nothing to transform (reject) because they’re already a woman. However, a man’s transformation into a woman through drag is like crawling out of ones’ skin and becoming something else (the rejection of masculinity). I can only speculate why some straight cis woman can’t comprehend this, because their primary motivation is entertainment and craft, but for gay folks, it’s meaning is a lot deeper… it’s the escape (or rejection). And when it comes to transformation impact, to an extent, contestants who are trans (mtf) – who has fully transitioned – will face the same dilemma as cis woman. In fact, some mtf trans individuals identify as straight women. Outside of RuPaul’s Drag Race, people can do whatever they want!
If you’re really an ally, understand where RuPaul is coming from and what he’s saying, and act like one. Don’t twist his statements and make it about all you. Don’t be a traitor.
At the end of the day, RuPaul and the producers of Drag Race will decide what is best for the show. And if you don’t like it, watch another show. You don’t care what RuPaul thinks? That’s fine. He probably won’t care what you think of him too. And maybe, if you hate RuPaul and Drag Race so much, maybe stop making money out of it – either stop booking RuGurls, or stop using the show to draw foot traffic to your business, or stop making merch out of the show and its’ cast. We could just as easily twist people’s hatred to RuPaul as racism. How would you feel about that?
“Each morning I pray to set aside everything I THINK I know, so I may have an open mind and a new experience. I understand and regret the hurt I have caused. The trans community are heroes of our shared LGBTQ movement. You are my teachers.”–RuPaul/Twitter
RuPaul fought so many battles for the LGBT community long before some of us where even born, helped pave (and continues to) the way for the new generation, opened doors for so many, single-handedly created a global drag entertainment industry which so many are making a living out of, and launched the careers of over a hundred artists … how many times his words or his show lifted your spirits up? … and this is how “fans” say “Thank you”? Do people really believe he would be the one to stab the community in the back? Are people really this heartless (or evil)?
“You’re born naked and the rest is drag.”–RuPaul
That’s true, and he said that. But RuPaul in the interview wasn’t talking about the whole drag ecosystem, he was talking about the show! Charlie Hides understood it…
“These things I know to be true. RPDR is NOT the be all & end all of Drag. “Reality TV” is NOT real. If you say you “love drag” then go out to your local club and support your local queens. Finally, none of us is perfect, be open, judge less! P.S. I love sushi!”–Charlie Hides/Twitter
And so does Mariah Balenciaga …
While you are trying to protest @rupaulsdragrace @rupaulofficial , please don’t forget the verbiage & conversations A LOT of you have had with me over the years( even recently) !!!!! I will keep things within family , because outside is not ready for how complex we truly are . Stop attacking those who have paved a way and helped give a voice . Our community is a full spectrum. So for a large segment that chose to live stealth to attack a person who has lived out loud and help bring awareness to many through entertainment ……. I welcome a round table discussion , let’s speak on it within context . Ps. If you are really protesting Rupaul and the franchise ……. stop using the pink letters that made you global. Y’all not protesting Jeffery Starr’s racist ass . I see his stuff all in your makeup kits .???? #bitchunbothered
And just to reiterate … RuPaul was talking about casting for Drag Race, not your lifestyle. If people set aside their personal agenda and read carefully and understand what RuPaul said in the interview … this is really a non-issue.
Still feel offended? Watch another show. Don’t be a fake fan. Girl, bye!