Drag Race: What About It?
Photographed by Jordyn Damato of Remington Race
By Jordyn Damato
It’s a terrifying time to be queer, non-binary, or trans in our society, as more anti-gay bills are being passed and proposed around our country. It is expected to feel a sense of dread or shame about who you are when the people in power disregard you as such. But with as much pain and suffering as us LGBTQIA+ people have already been forced to endure, there is pride, hope, and even more gayness that is strong enough to hold the power they want to take away.
As of late, the biggest area of debate between the LGBTQIA+ community and the Government is the questioning of Drag Queens and Drag Shows, questioning how “appropriate” they are for children. I could go on about how various older generations and/or religious affiliations force kids to endure much more inappropriate matters than watching a man play dress up and sing a little song or two, but we are not here to focus on our oppressors nor to argue why our representation matters. This is a conversation surrounding all the beautiful attributes that come from with the art of drag.
RuPaul’s Drag Race first aired in RuPaul’s basement in 2009, and fifteen years later it continues to be the number one reality television show in the country because of its originality, humor, and sense of community it brings to queer people everywhere. Besides the gag-worthy jokes and jaw-dropping challenges that RuPaul puts the queens through, the show also serves as a platform for everything high-fashion; gorgeous makeup looks and innovative runway styles that pave the way for the entire fashion industry.
I was lucky enough to sit down with Remington Rose, a local Mt. Pleasant Drag Queen, and hear some of her experiences and opinions about what it is like to be a Drag Queen today.
When asked what her favorite aspect of Drag is, she said, “the idea that you can be anything you want to be. There are no boundaries, only creativity. Growing up, kids always feel like they have to adhere to this expected social construct, where in drag you can tear down those expectations. Embracing differences is what drag is all about. That is why I do drag. I can release this hyper feminine energy that has been locked away in me for years.”
However, with positives tend to come a few negatives. I asked what her least favorite aspect of Drag is, and she said, “Obviously the hate that comes along with it. People don’t like differences and I feel like I am this walking target at times and I worry for my safety. I am thankful to have never had issues, but the stories I have heard are horrible and it makes me a very cautious person. But that is also the reason I do drag for all those individuals you are not able to embrace who they really are. I am, so they can have courage to be.”
This really emphasizes the importance of representation for the Drag community in everyday life because it helps everyone, at whatever age, realize that they may be “different” from others. But their differences are nothing to hide or feel ashamed about; they are hidden superpowers, they should be displayed for the world to see.
Momentarily straying away from all the debate against Drag as a whole, Remington acknowledged the effect of Drag Race in the fashion industry from her own insights. “Drag has become so much more mainstream in the past five years. It is something that isn’t hidden anymore and people get to experience it through television, drag brunches and even at early ages through drag queen story time. I think this has opened doors for new fashion and beauty trends. So many people are going out of their comfort zones with bolder makeup. On sites like Fashion Nova you can find highly embellished garments that almost look like dress up clothes you would see as a child with feathers and sequins. I think that drag has inspired designers to think more outside the box and go over the top with fashions for everyone.”
However, as Drag Queens or as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, it is seemingly impossible to ignore the hate that is being demonstrated against our people across the country. I asked Remington her opinion on the anti-drag bills being passed, and her answer speaks volumes; “I think that the bills being passed right now are disgusting. It is just another way for the government to use its cis white heterosexual power to keep minorities voices silenced. If I could say something to the government I would say: find the real problems and take action. Stop using easy targets to distract from the real issues. It’s harmful to queer and trans people. we will not be erased.”
All in all, in times of fear and oppression, it is important to remember why we stand up for the important things. Equal representation, equal rights, and equal opportunities for everyone who has been “othered” their entire lives. The Drag community is always a safe and welcoming place for any member of LGBTQIA+ that needs a new home. In the words of RuPaul herself, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”