The Race Versus The Reality

Images courtesy of Google Search

In 2007, there was buzz around the drag community that RuPaul was shooting some kind of show in her garage for drag queens.  I remember queens like Jewels talking about it after a Sunday Brunch drag show in Long Beach at Hamburger Mary’s (although it wasn’t called that at the time it was Mick & Mack’s).  I remember thinking… “her garage?”

Fast forward to 2018 and the 10th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race hosted by Emmy Award Winning RuPaul Charles, there is no doubt the Race has risen like a Phoenix or a penis (let’s get real, who knows about any other Phoenix than Season 3’s Phoenix O’Hara – who didn’t rise too far in the competition, unfortunately).  But never would anyone have thought the Drag would have so greatly influenced mainstream media.

The problem with this influence is the responsibility that comes with it.  A group who had previously been so looked over as “too-feminine”, “wannabe girls”, and even “trannies” had been given a stage much larger than they were used to being on.  They were put in front of potentially billions of people.  Anyone with access to a TV and eventually an internet connection could see what they said and did.  Those who identified with their favorite queens were living on every word.  “Throwing shade” “reading” “cutting a bitch’s wigs” while in a competition was the light they were seen in.

But what about the parts of drag that we don’t see?  The charitable events drag queens attend and throw to raise money for kids, or those with HIV/AIDS, or any other great cause.  The shows they put on at clubs that are near empty, but they’re up in that gig with the hopes of their event getting some exposure and gaining momentum.  The hours they spend to get ready to make tips, or if they’re lucky $50 – $100 bucks.  The messages of love, persistence, and inspiration they convey to their audience is ever present.

RuPaul calls Drag Race the “Olympics of drag” and tells the girls they need to bring their all when they’re on that show.  The thing is, some of these girls have been grinding and pushing and going through the struggle for years and years.

The girls who haven’t been on that show or even other competitive drag shows like Dragula, don’t have the luxury of booking managers, recognition, thousands of followers on social media, and whatever else we deem as “success” in drag.  In my opinion, they’ve been running a triathlon, an iron-man even, without so much as a medal at the end of the race. The Olympian has been going long before their appearance on the show.

While Drag Race, Dragula and shows like them, give the queens selected for the shows “success”, their responsibility to their audience and fans is an example of kindness, love, and caring for each other.  The title gained as a “star of the show” is not a relief of responsibilities as a leader of the community.  These queens must be mindful young people are watching, seeing mentors, role-models, and aspirations to be similar. The influence of Drag is awesome, let’s ensure the influence includes inclusivity, support, and encouragement.  Remember where we come from.

Ours is a community that has been (and still is) judged, condemned, spat on, beat up, and even bombed all for loving who we love. There are enough external forces attempting to tear us down. Value each other.  Value life. Value that people are struggling with things we cannot imagine struggling with.  Be grateful for what you do have and be encouraging because when one of us is successful, we’re all successful.

Know that your success is our success, your voice is our voice, if you’re saying bad things, we’re saying bad things.  If you’re threatening someone’s life over their opinion about your favorite drag queen, we’re threatening someone’s life. It’s not fair that we’re all judged by the actions of a few, but let’s make those actions positive ones.  If we unite, be positive, and agree to disagree when we differ, we’ll be a beacon.

 

Happy New Year!!!

Well, have you broken your resolution yet?  Not to set you up for that, hopefully, you’re on the right track and you’ve resolved to be more fabulous than last year.  Or you’re the type that doesn’t make resolutions because you’re too cool for that.  Whatever the case, hope your year is going well so far.

Drag Queens Galore has never been the “mean site” it’s just not something I’ve ever wanted to do.  To be called the “nice ones” in the drag blog/website world (because there are millions of us) has been one of my favorite things.  That being said, I’d like to encourage you, the reader (yes, all 2 of you who made it this far) to step up to the challenge Drag Queens Galore has for you this year.

Think of the times when adversaries were most successful working together.  My most memorable and probably the most popular television moment for Drag was on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 when Coco Montrese picked Alyssa Edwards to be on her team.  At the time, Coco and Alyssa still had their beef from the pageant world that has since been squashed, but no one thought Coco would pick her “enemy”.  Coco admitted Alyssa is a great dancer and this was a dancing challenge.

The easy thing is to throw shade and talk about “back rolls”, but Coco thought about what she was doing there and wanted to win.  She knew, Alyssa was THE dancer.  She’s a teacher, she’s fierce, and they won.  When she stopped letting her ego make the decisions, she let the win in.

These were people who ACTUALLY knew each other and had ACTUALLY wronged each other in some way.  They were friends who had a fight.  IN REAL LIFE.  If people who know each other and hurt each other can get past the pettiness and work together to win, I think that’s within all of us to support these people who bring us entertainment.

By the way shady ladies, they’re on to you.  When you throw shade just for a response, they know.  It’s not something new, it’s not something they’re riveted by, they’re smart.  They talk with each other IN REAL LIFE and “mute” you, ignore you, avoid you.  It’s not the way in.  If you want to get a response or get heard by a drag queen, talk to them like they’re human.  Because they are human.  They’re real flesh and blood, they cry when they lose people they love, they laugh when people say something funny, and most of all they work hard to provide the entertainment they do.  It’s a fun job, but it’s a job.  They’re working.

dqmean

I propose to you this, let’s look at some drag this year and find 3 good things about it before we throw shade at the queen.  Then, when you’re thinking of commenting the easy read, say those 3 things instead.  That’s right, I called it the easy read.  When you can find stuff wrong with someone’s drag, you’re doing the easy part.  When you can find art in the work that’s been put in and the courage to share that art, you’re doing it right.

Whether you’re doing a new year new you thing, or just going about your life like nothing has changed, keep looking out for each other.  Think of yourself in someone else’s shoes.  As many things as you’ve got going on in your life, there’s probably someone going through that and maybe more that you’re interacting with.

If you’re up for the challenge, tag @dragqueensgalore on Instagram when you say some nice stuff and perhaps you’ll get a little shout out over here.  I have no idea what’s to come of this year, but let’s do our best to make it better than last year.  Thanks for reading this, share it with your friends.  And comment below with your new year’s resolution.

Drag Heals

glitterhighheelRecently, Drag Queens Galore received a rather long email from what seemed like a disgruntled reader.  There were sentences like, “Allow me to relate to you the horror I just went through….” and ” because of the lack of up to date accurate information of this kind.”

At first, I thought, “Oh no, what did I write wrong now?” Try as I might, there will always be someone more informed, more “in the know” than me or my sources.  But when I found out the message was about not having a drag show to go to, I thought, “The power of drag.”

The writer of the message, who we’ll call Charlotte, was frustrated from searching for a good drag show in her neighborhood.  As you know, the search engines are getting more and more spam filled and depending on which version of some of the internet…. searches, you can get more commercials than actual answers to your inquiry.  Charlotte was looking high and low, with limited available resources that you and I probably take for granted.  See Charlotte lives in Colorado, she’s got limited mobility and due to a sexual assault, she’s got a slew of other baggage that comes along with the mental damage her assailant has left her with.

So, as is for many with limited mobility, she is on an income that has to pay for healthcare on top of the average living expenses.  So she’s cut out cell phone service (no apps) and internet (she uses the public library) and doesn’t drive (she uses public transportation).  Even with all of this going on, Charlotte’s concern?  Break up the monotony of doctor visits, lawyer visits and working to see a drag show.

A drag show she couldn’t find even though the internet told her to go to a specific address to find one.  Imagine the emotional roller coaster she’s already been on followed by the sucker punch of no drag show after all she’d gone through to get to the address she thought was right.

When Charlotte told me her story, I thought to myself, ‘how much do I take for granted?’  First off, I can walk around, to say the least, search things on my phone and sit at my computer all within the confines of my home.  Everyone knows public transportation in California is a joke, so the car has become somewhat of a necessity, but I have to that access as well.  But mostly, I take for granted that I can just go to a drag show any night of the week and know I’m going to get something great.

But what is it that makes drag so important?  Why does a single show have such an impact that someone with such difficulty getting around would save up to travel such lengths to see one?

For me, I think it’s an escape.  You’re in a club/bar/lounge/festival or whatever the venue, surrounded by people, some of who have been through hell to be able to call themselves LGBT, but all who appreciate the struggle and celebration of what it means to be part of this community.  And a performer has completely transformed himself into this larger than life character who focuses on you for 5 seconds.  In that 5 seconds, you matter, not only do you matter, but you matter to the person everyone is there for!  And even if you spent your entire day being looked over, talked down to, or treated badly, this performer has made your day!

Drag Queens Galore has always stuck by the core value of being a promoter of drag.  That doesn’t mean every show is shared here, it doesn’t mean you’ll catch the scoop here.  But when the queens meet me and the first words out of their mouths are, “oh, you’re the nice one” it makes me feel like I’ve done it right.  So, that being said, appreciating drag is not the same as being a fan[atic].  There are so many styles, so many versions, so many definitions of drag that no ONE in particular is the right one.  As long as you’re bringing that feeling of, “thank goodness for this performer,” to your audience, you’ll win every time.

Charlotte is headed to a show this weekend, by the way.  So don’t worry about her, she’s going to have a great time!  As I hope you do as well.  And don’t take anything for granted, because there are so many without, be sure to take a step back and be grateful.

How did Drag change your day, night, week, month, year or even life?  What part of you did drag heal?  At the end of the day, all we need is a little more fabulous in our lives right? 

Drag The Color Lines

Recently, RuPaul posted on Social Media, “Shunned by whites for being 13315648_1261299813887643_7772192246850039997_nblack, by blacks for being gay, and by gays for being fem….”  Needless to say, someone will always be ready to judge you, perhaps the problem is not the color of your skin, or the gender of the person you love.  Perhaps it truly is as Ru says… “Ego needs to feel superior over others”

But why? What is it about judging someone that makes you feel superior? Why do we feel comfortable judging someone’s “look” and “dragging them through it” when most of us don’t have the courage to step on a stage out of costume, much less in heels wearing clothes for the “wrong gender”?

What makes anyone think that because we look at others and have an opinion, that anyone else wants to hear what we’re saying?  What makes people of different ethnic backgrounds, upbringing, countries even, think they know what the other should or should not be doing?

What if, just for one day at a time, we took a look at ourselves.  We took a really good look.  Not one of those mirror checks where you give yourself approval as you walk out the door for the club.  But a good hard look at what it is that makes you think anyone wants to hear the negative things you have to say in life?

Have you noticed, it’s a competition about who has it worse when we’re talking about things as simple as sleep?  “I got 4 hours of sleep last night….” “oh yeah, well I only got 3 hours of broken sleep.”  Why would this be a competition anyone wants to join? The “Who Has It Worse” club is definitely among those throwing a lot of shade at people doing things they don’t understand.

When you come from a place of hate and fear, your words will reflect that.  But if you have love and understanding in your heart, that will pour out. So no matter what the color of your skin, gay, bi, straight, butch, femme, whatever you identify as with your gender, sexuality, race, nationality or any of the million things that make us different, embrace the differences. Find something good and you will continue to see the good in the world.

In no way will this completely eliminate hate, but it makes for a few less bitter bitches.  And I hope you agree, we can use a few less bitter bitches…. in case you never noticed… they don’t give awards for being the biggest bitch, but they do for being the most congenial.

AND FIERCE DOES NOT EQUAL BITCH.  You can do fierce without being a bitch honey.  Embrace your beauty, embrace your strength and look for the light instead of the darkness in each day!

:::Steps of soapbox:::