Pump the breaks!
Okay racers, chasers, and stans. We need to talk. You too casual fan that really only shows up mid way through to meet up with friends and doesn’t have a person they’re rooting for, this concerns you too!
We need to stop what we are doing in our ranking of queens because it’s corrupting the way we watch Drag Race and the response to this week’s elimination has never underscored this more.
Naomi Smalls was really a breakthrough star on her season. People didn’t know what to make of her. They thought she was pretty enough but didn’t think too much of her. As the weeks went on however, a smooth, subtle, cerebral change came out of her during the competition. She did what an artist is supposed to do, she evolved. When she was announced for this season, people seemed to forget that and wrote her off as safe. Has she shined every episode? No. But ask yourself this, has anyone? NO! This is an edited TV show that creates the world they want us to see. We need to remember that.
Meanwhile, if ever a queen has shown such consistent talent and professionalism, Manila Luzon is on the very short list. She has shown that in three seasons of television. Want to know what her elimination says about her? That she’s a consistently talented and professional queen that won’t be on a TV show. But the good news is, you can still go see her be talented and professional in person and tell her how talented and professional she is. She loves that. Because hard work deserves recognition. And go pre-order her new album on iTunes while you’re at it.
Look, winning RuPaul’s Drag Race is a massive deal, it really really is. Drag Race is, and will always one of the most important, maybe the most important, piece of gay media. It’s a show about queer people, by queer people, for queer people and now, our straight allies. Drag Race has succeeded beyond all expectations to the point where it has won awards that have traditionally kept queer people, especially queer people of color, out. The show has inspired so many generations of people who want to live their truth and have fun doing it, even in countries where doing that is not an easy, or safe, thing. It has brought queer performers to new heights of entertainment, even past the show. We now have drag queens in an Academy Award nominated film, not as the butt of a joke, but rather as a key emotional element, acting with Screen Actor’s Guild nominated cast….and not one of those queens has a Drag Race crown. There can be more than one. This is drag, bitch, not Highlander.
Are all queens made equal? No and let’s celebrate that. Go ask the most glamourous successful queen you know to show you a photo of the first time they did drag and I guarantee you will NOT see the same person. Drag is a journey, it’s not about starting out who you’re gonna be, it’s about finding who that person is, and finding the level of perfection you want that person to be. Before you do that though the first thing you need to know is once you step out in your first drag lewk, not everyone is gonna like it, not everyone is gonna get it, and that’s ok. You don’t have to ever step in front of RuPaul to be a drag queen, you just have to do what makes you love it, every single time. If you as a viewer or audience member, don’t like a queen, that’s fine. If someone isn’t your cup of tea, don’t drink. But what you have no right to do is harass queens you don’t like with racist tweets, with hate, and with death threats. If you’re gonna complain about Drag Race queens but can’t name one local queen, you’re missing out on a massive part of what drag is all about. Your favorite Drag Race girl was someone else’s local queen first.
Heard of her?
Look, I don’t mean to be messy and hate to spoil next week but…another talented queen is going home. But just because they didn’t win, it doesn’t take one strand of wig away from them or their talent. Anyone who is strong enough, confident enough, and secure enough with who they are to walk out of their house bringing color into a world where so many only want to see black and white, deserves a the most opulent crown there is.