‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ hits back at hate, threats

As the cast of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” celebrated the new season, they credited the show’s creator with popularizing drag and expressed concern about the protests and threats to the performance style at the heart of the long-running series.

“RuPaul really brought drag into the mainstream, really made people aware that it’s an art form more than anything,” contestant Marcia Marcia Marcia told The Associated Press at Thursday’s season 15 premiere in New York. The new season starts Friday on MTV.

“I think everyone was fine with drag for a little while,” said the drag queen with the “Brady Bunch”-inspired name. “And now history is repeating itself and people are speaking out against it, which I think is so stupid. .”

With a long and rich history, drag – the art of dressing up as a different gender, often for performance – has been attacked by right-wing politicians and activists who have wrongly associated it with the “sexualisation” and “grooming” of children. In recent months, protesters – sometimes armed – have besieged drag history classes, where performers read books to children. A ban on children at drag events has been adopted. In late November, a shooter at a Colorado Springs nightclub turned a drag queen’s birthday party into a massacre and was charged with hate crimes and murder.

Another participant, Jax, said the threats, protests and hate were “disheartening” but not surprising: “Just like being a person of color, being a minority, growing up in certain communities, it’s something I’ve had to go through my whole life. life.”

“But we always win,” Jax added. “We always win 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 don’t do anything to hurt anybody. We just try to bring love to everything.”

Also for the participant Loosey LaDuca, this is nothing new: “It’s really unfortunate that during this time drag queens have become the new target. But LGBT people are no strangers to being the public enemy.

Facing threats with caution is fine, LaDuca said, but “we will never be afraid.”

Last month, New York City Councilman Erik Bottcher attended a drag history class in his district. He filmed and posted video of “dozens of homophobic protesters outside with the most disgusting signs verbally attacking the families and the drag queen.” Two days later, he said, anti-drag activists vandalized the hallway outside his office and entered his apartment building.

– Two of them were arrested. A third was arrested for assaulting one of my neighbors,” he told the AP at the premiere. “This is all an attempt to intimidate those of us who support drag story hour.”

Contestant Irene Dubois has a theory about what lies behind the vitriol directed at drag artists.

“I think a man in women’s clothes is inherently funny just because we’re like, (gasp) ‘That’s not supposed to happen!'” Dubois hypothesizes. “And it’s when the men in women’s clothes stop pushing, shoving, wink, wink and actually start enjoying the way they look in women’s clothes, that people start saying, ‘Wait, hold on, hold on, hold on. You gonna laugh at yourself. And if you don’t laugh at yourself, we don’t like it.’

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” judge Ross Mathews paints the progression and regression as “a pendulum swinging.”

“The further we get and the more we’re embraced, accepted, celebrated that pendulum — they’re going to try to swing it back, to move our movement back,” he says of anti-drag activists. “But you can’t put this genie back in the bottle. Honey, we’re awesome.”

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 these things, I think you need to reconsider.”

In the end, contestant Princess Poppy hopes it’s the impact RuPaul has made on the culture of “Drag Race” that will prevail.

“I feel like it’s helped a lot of people who don’t really fully understand drag people or gay people or drag queens,” she said. “They don’t really understand because they don’t really understand what we do. But the show, it humanizes us, and it shows that we’re human too.”

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