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Drag In The Era Of Trump

In Trump’s America, anything to subvert the norm is a great thing. This is why gender transformations like drag or identities like being transgender or gender queer are so vital today: they completely upend the norm. It is a statement of making the self in one’s own image.

We all know this. For lovers of shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race, this is true to an extremely high degree that eclipses the show’s most recent season being a touch above meh. Drag is vital right now and people like RuPaul are so important in vocalizing and physicalizing our national contempt with the hate from the top.

The drag icon—Rupaul Charles herself—is the recent subject of a delicious story in The Atlantic that is a fabulous breath of fresh air considering the incredible downer of a cover story about secret slavery a la human trafficking (which I strongly suggest you read). Written by Spencer Kornhaber, readers are given a tracing of the TV figure’s history to frame the juicy bits: RuPaul discussing current politics.

It’s a great piece. For example: this bit on the need to inject more pussies into America.

The rejection of a woman president in favor of a man who reportedly prefers his female staffers to “dress like women” and whose supporters rail against “cucks” and “the pussification of America” places drag in a more obviously defiant context: The pussification of America—the freedom of men to partake in that which society has marked as feminine and vice versa—is exactly what RuPaul wants.

This is indeed the future liberals want.

To that, look at Trump as his own sort of fucked up drag: how ridiculous is he and his performance of self? There is a distinct difference that RuPaul makes known.

When I put to RuPaul the idea that the president is a drag artist, he drew an important distinction: Trump “actually believes he is that thing. As drag queens, we know we’re putting on a facade and we’re always aware of it, which is what scares the status quo. He believes he looks good. He believes he’s looking like a real man.”

That is truly frightening. It’s important to realize—and make Trump see—that this is not the case. He is a buffoon. He is worthless.

While RuPaul adamantly doesn’t brand himself as liberal (He says so in the article!!), he does stand for progress and subverting the norm—and that’s so obviously crucial for our advancement as LGBTQ and people in general{. It’s vital for the advancement of our society. This is why those who see drag as “men in dresses” need to rethink their entire being. This little snippet from the story captures that perfectly.

Before a recent TV appearance promoting Drag Race, a producer asked whether he’d be willing to teach the show’s host how to walk like a supermodel. The request offended him. “I’m not doing drag to give you makeup tips,” he told me. “This has always been a political statement.” That political statement doesn’t exactly lend itself to specific action items, of course; RuPaul is as fluent in righteous woo-woo as any outspoken celebrity. “Following your heart is the most political thing you can do,” he told me at one point.

Be yourself. Follow your heart. Don’t take shit from nobody else—and don’t let your identity be co-opted or commodified for the LOLs of slumping America.

The entire story is fantastic and can be read here. It also features an ace illustration from icon in his own right, John Cuneo too.

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