Popular Show has Made Drag Less Taboo
by Claire Nunez
RuPaul Charles is inarguably the biggest name in drag. There is no question about it. This past week, the premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 happened and I have a lot of have a lot of feelings about it, but I am just here to let you know that RuPaul has changed the world of drag– for the better.
If you have never seen RuPaul’s show, it is essentially a bunch of drag queens from all over the U.S. and Puerto Rico competing in a Project Runway-esque, America’s Next Top Model-ish fashion. It is a beautiful mess of fake eyelashes, butt pads and duct tape. RuPaul’s reality television show, which is on Logo TV, the LGBTQ+ network from Viacom; grew a lot faster than anyone expected. There have been nine seasons, three All Stars, and it is currently one of the most watched shows on any of Viacom’s networks. No one thought that a drag queen would be able to get so many views. It is absolutely incredible.
No one ever thought the show would be on for as long as it has been, due to the “controversial” nature of the show. Apparently, people were scared of drag queens– I do not understand why. Maybe it is the concept of a man in a dress that scares them. Or perhaps it is the fact that these queens are just so hecking beautiful. Oh wait, it is absolutely because they duct tape for tucking. That is some scary stuff, I’ll admit. I would not want to duct tape any part of my body.
If you went out into the New York drag scene just a few years ago, you would find a lot of impersonators, big-lipped personalities, and super voluptuous queens working the clubs. Now, the world of drag is considered a part of the new art scene. After queens like Alaska, Sharon Needles, Sasha Velour Fierce, and my personal favorite, Violet Chachki; drag has become an artform and even more of a pastime. Today, you will find pieces of art working in drag clubs. They are some of the most incredible people you will ever meet and they are transforming the way we see drag queens. Some of them are not even remotely-female looking; they are just eccentric characters with very specific personalities and looks.
Drag has transformed from a somewhat taboo job that involves secrecy and danger to a pathway to fame. RuPaul has provided an outlet for some of the most-talented drag queens to show a greater audience their talents. This in turn has made drag less taboo. All of the queens from the past nine seasons have provided examples for people ashamed of their identities. The celebrity status of these queens has given those who consider themselves different someone to look up to.
Every queen who has been on Drag Race is unapologetically herself and changing the face of drag in her own way. These drag queens have also opened up a political discussion. During the 2016 election, RuPaul and her gang made a huge ruckus on the television show and on social media. Many of them could also be found advocating for the rights of marginalized communities at rallies, their shows, or on social media. This has been another way that drag queens have been changing the world for the better.
Drag queens take extraordinary risks to serve as role models for a great majority of people. These incredible humans spend so much money to make themselves into the most beautiful women anyone has ever seen, to buy wigs, to buy the amazing costumes they wear for their shows. They also go through a lot of emotional trauma. Many drag queens on Drag Race discuss how their families do not accept them, or how they have to perform drag in secret. These queens have overcome such adversity and, earlier in drag history, these queens struggled even more.
RuPaul has changed the social status of drag in the mainstream. His show has changed the way we see drag queens and has transformed the drag scene in general. It is not the same. It is a true artform that is changing with each new season of Drag Race. It is also incredibly beautiful to see how our world is changing with each season of this show. It is actually unbelievable that a simple reality show about a drag queen is making real social changes. Now, let’s just hope the Kardashians don’t suddenly shake up our societal standards.