Before I dig in to our final power rankings of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3, I want to take a brief step back to discuss the cultural phenomenon that is Drag Race.
Last week RuPaul made some offensive comments about transgender women and their ability to compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race in an interview with The Guardian. This isn’t the first time Ru has been dismissive of the feelings and identities of trans queens, although it’s the first time the issue has gained enough traction that he personally apologized (via Twitter).
I am not the right voice to weigh in in the topic of trans competitors on Drag Race. To understand the community’s feelings about this issue, this BuzzFeed article has a good summary, as does this follow-up by The Guardian. The trans voices in those articles lend their own important perspectives, and if you are a fan of this show I think it is worth your time to listen to them.
In listening to transgender and genderqueer people talk about not just RuPaul but Drag Race and drag in general, I understand that some of them feel that the line-blurring and parody aspects of drag can be harmful to them – either directly, or through influencing perception of their identities. Similarly, I know queer people who dislike Drag Race for the way that it depicts (and, to a degree, commodifies) queer culture in a specific, stereotypical, and sanded-down way.
(It is important to understand that a trans person who is dressing to fit their gender identity is not in drag, regardless of their transition status. The assumption that any male-bodied person dressing as a woman is doing drag is a harmful one.)
Alternative gender expression has been important to me my entire life. Some of my earliest memories include dressing up as Wonder Woman and Jem as a little boy and being told that was fine. Maybe that’s why when I discovered the art of drag as a teenager (partially through RuPaul, but also in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Angel in RENT) it resonated with me so strongly. Not, not just strongly. Viscerally.
Drag can be parody, political, and expressive – often all at the same time, and it explores the often arbitrary lines our society has drawn between what it means to be male and female. That’s important to me and to my own conception and expression of gender, but I understand that it’s not for everyone.
In loving Drag Race, I acknowledge all of those problematic aspects of it. Yet, I love drag and for me – someone who doesn’t enjoy going out to bars and clubs – Drag Race is my primary means of accessing and consuming the art of drag. It’s also a highly produced reality TV show, which is not the same as actual reality.
And that’s what I have to say about that.
I turns out that next week will be the final episode of this season of All Stars – which makes this the final All Stars ranking! Which queen has the most momentum towards taking the crown? And, how will a surprising second return from the eliminated queens back as a jury of peers play out for our four finalists?
Don’t worry – All Stars 3 may be over, but my drag coverage will continue! Next week there will be 14 new queens to meet as I rank the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 based on their pre-season coverage. The new season debuts on March 22. [Read more…] about RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3 Power Rankings, Episode 07 – My Best Squirrelfriend’s Dragsmaids Wedding Trip