While I was home for summer break last June, my brother and I watched the finale of "RuPaul's Drag Race." The performances from the final drag queens of the ninth season of the show were honestly tear-jerking, which is pretty amazing considering it was a lip-syncing competition. Sasha Velour, the winner of this season, was expressing real and raw pain to Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional” when my mother walked into the living room and asked with a crinkled nose, “What is this? Transvestites?”
I hadn’t realized how misguided older generations, namely baby boomers, are to drag queens. They see them as risqué and meant to stay in dark alleys and speakeasy nightclubs. Drag queens have been associated with drugs, alcohol and sex since their conception.
Yes, they work into the wee hours of the morning and do emphasize sexuality, but they are no different than any other performer. Unfortunately, a lot of negative response to drag queens seems to stem from homophobia and keeping fragile masculinity afloat, and in 2018 it does not make sense to uphold these views.
The reality of drag queen culture is that acceptance and love is the driving force.
On "RuPaul's Drag Race," the contestants have talked about homophobia and transphobia, eating disorders, not being accepted by family members, and many other serious topics that many viewers can relate to. This not only shows love and trust within the drag community but also expresses to the audience that they are not alone and there are people just like them.
At the start of every season, each queen walks into the studio to meet each other. More often than not, they know each other and respect each other’s work. The drag community is tightknit and everyone looks out for everyone else, because the queens know that everyone in the field is an outsider.
Performance is a hard field as it is, but drag is one of the hardest branches. Long nights, no health benefits, and the income is mostly from tips. However, they do it because they love it. Either to spread a message or just to dress up and dance, they love doing it, and that is admirable.
Drag queens are comedians, dancers, artists, activists, and role models. They stray from the norm and tell others that that is OK to do. A TV show during prime time about drag queens on a major network would be unheard of 20 years ago, and now with the recent advances in gay rights, it is a beautiful reality. As Sasha Velour once said, be the strange you wish to see in the world. In a world full of hate and violence, sometimes love, community and ‘strange’ is exactly what is needed.