Remember last Summer, when Tyra Sanchez was on a tear regarding how terrible Drag Race fans are? That subject is finally being addressed: it’s racism.
In the past two weeks, two major moments have happened to address this issue. First, Billboard published a story featuring Shea Couleé, Aja, and Shangela addressing racism and the fandom. It’s a very smart, very necessary read. Here’s a highlight.
It’s not always as blatant as epithets and specific imagery. “I feel like the fandom kind of leans towards being more supportive of queens who are white or passing,” Aja continues. “I think that queens of color receive more of a petty backlash when it comes to things like having like an attitude problem.”
The sentiment that black queens are more harshly criticized for similar things is one that has been echoed in the Drag Race subreddit threads, and by Katya Zamolodchikova, a season 7 competitor, on her Periscope. In season 10, evidence of this seemed to crop up on social media: After a series of scenes showing The Vixen being the upfront, no frills, straight shooter she’s known to be in Chicago, some on social media called her “angry.” It was a curious assessment of someone who simply righted a few lies that Aquaria was in the process of telling.
This bring us to the next major thing: The Vixen, a fighter who is so dogged in winning that she isn’t putting up with shit from anyone. And that’s branding her as “angry” which, as we know, is code for “angry (black woman),” a term that easily slips into the coded racial epithet of being “a diva.”
Just look to this little scene from the recent Untucked for your proof. Aquaria got called out by The Vixen for being bitchy only to cry when someone is a bitch back to her. Vixen calls her out and points to the cameras to illustrate the big problem: the cameras are always watching and will always illustrate Aquaria’s performance as “being attacked” when that simply isn’t true. This is a major moment in reality television and race and boosts The Vixen as a sort of hyper woke reality star who is confronting tropes as they happen. It’s like she’s stepping in and out of a painting to offer analysis in real time. That’s impressive.
Accordingly, major backlash is unfolding. As Billboard pointed out in a separate story, Aquaria has actively pushed out racist fans saying that they should for no reason be throwing hate at The Vixen. This is major but gets at something older fans have seen for some time: there is a huge racism problem in the fandom. It isn’t unique to this fan group but is decidedly a very American something coming to a head in queer circles, a means of addressing bigger issues from within.
This is a major opportunity for the show to do some work that would resonate outside of the LGBTQ+ community. Like last season with Valentina’s fans going full on evil (and racist) on competitors like Nina Bonina Brown and vaguely addressing it on the reunion, this season can see the issues and is addressing them in real time. Let’s hope the show itself, from Ru’s own mouth, tackle the issue. I would take a Very Special Episode™ of Drag Race on racism directly.
So where will this go? Unsure but it is high time for Drag Race fans and the queer community at large to get their shit together. Intersectionality or nothing, fam.