As the cast of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” celebrated the start of the new season at a premiere in New York, they reflected on the recent protests and threats that have targeted the performance art of drag. Despite being credited with bringing drag into the mainstream and increasing awareness of it as an art form, the show’s creator, RuPaul, has faced backlash from right-wing politicians and activists who have falsely claimed that drag promotes the sexualization and grooming of children. This has led to protests and even violent attacks at drag events, including a shooting at a Colorado Springs nightclub in November that left several dead.
“It is really unfortunate that during this time, drag queens have become the new target,” said contestant Loosey LaDuca. “But LGBT people are no stranger to being the, you know, the public enemy.” Despite the challenges they have faced, the cast remains determined to continue performing and bringing love to the world through drag. “We always prevail and we’re always going to come out on top because we’re on the right side of history and we love what we do and we’re not doing anything to harm anybody,” said contestant Jax.
Contestant Irene Dubois suggested that the backlash may be due to people feeling uncomfortable when drag performers stop playing up the humor of men in women’s clothing and instead embrace their appearance. “I think a man in women’s clothing is inherently hilarious just because we’re like, (gasps) ‘That’s not supposed to happen!’ And it’s when the men in women’s clothing stop sort of doing the nudge, nudge, wink, wink and start actually enjoying the way they look in the women’s clothing that people start to sort of say, ‘Wait, hold on, hold on, hold on. You’re supposed to be laughing at yourself. And if you’re not laughing at yourself, we don’t like it.'”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” judge Ross Mathews likened the acceptance and rejection of drag to a pendulum swinging, but emphasized that drag is here to stay and will continue to be fabulous. Marcia Marcia Marcia had a simple message for critics of drag, which she says is “all about fun and expression”: “If you have a problem with those things, I think you need to reevaluate.” In the end, contestant Princess Poppy hopes that it’s the impact RuPaul has had on the world that will endure. “RuPaul’s Drag Race has done so much for the LGBTQ community and for drag culture. I hope that the show and the message of love and acceptance that RuPaul always talks about will outlast any of the negativity or the hate that’s been thrown our way.”