With the mainstreaming of Drag Queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race moving to VH-1 and this season’s contestants being talked about on Saturday Night Live to Drag Makeup Courses being held at the Google Campus in the Silicon Valley, there’s no doubt Drag has made a significant move from its underground beginnings. But with each move closer to mainstream, are there also things being “lost in translation”?
Are there a lot of people who once shamed Drag and its tendency to piss “straight-edge” people off by being “too in your face” coming to the “dark side”? Can you come back from trashing drag and feature it in your shows? Is the Drag community forgiving? Or does that stance remain a dirty stain on your resume forever?
This may be something we have yet to find out. Drag has pushed its way through the back alley dive bars, dancing in front of mirrors in the bathroom, and dressing up for Halloween into the forefront of entertainment. It seems like these days you can’t have a successful show without some sort of inclusion of, what I like to call, “the drag effect” in it. Whether it’s Alexander Skarsgård in his Kinky Boots Drag (who calls San Francisco Empress Mercedez Munro Drag Mother) or Zac Efron in Baywatch opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson going “undercover” in full drag, these parts are not being shied away from in any.
But there seems to be some leeway when someone who is seen as a straight male dressing up in drag gets dolled up versus a drag queen in a competition. Somehow, the “drag queen” should know better and be better. While RuPaul’s Drag Race is “the SuperBowl of drag” it’s definitely got a lot in common with Kinky Boots and Baywatch, it’s all entertainment. But somehow, the internet critics, who know more than anyone in the world, forget that very important part. It’s for fun, it’s for entertainment and if at the end of the day you find yourself smiling, laughing, in a better mood because you have the ability to watch a cable television show that is now going on its 9th year running strong with no end in sight, then be grateful, be humble, and enjoy the luxury of drag on television.
Those who do the wonderful art of drag, I salute you, as always, for being brave, being smart, being bold and being able to be the butt of the joke. Because it takes a lot of courage to get up in front of a crowd to do anything, much less this thing that everyone seems to be such an expert in. Please do not forget the queens who have come before you, who have paved the way for you to have all the “fame and glory” you do have. Those who are activists, those who refuse to back down when they are told “you can’t do drag” because drag, while loved by many, can be feared by those who don’t understand it. And being fearful of something allows way too much power to be given up. So let them fear you, make them hear you and stand together. Don’t let them quiet your screams, don’t let them dull your shine. Whether you’re a queen on a television show, in a movie, a part of a local show, or you dress up in front of the mirror and take beautiful pictures of yourself. Never let them take it from you. Be the leaders drag queens were meant to be.