In this week’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the queens were tasked with making over super fans of the show into their own drag daughters. But, unlike previous versions of this challenge in past seasons, all of these super fans were cis-gendered women, which put forth the question to many: are we, queer people, even the audience?
The answer? Yes, we still are! Why? Because although some think that cis-gender women don’t ‘belong’ in drag, this episode proved that bio queens *are* part of the art of drag, gender and queer expression, and LGBTQIA+ community. And, in a refreshing pair of episodes, this week’s RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race opened the doors for female presenting queens, a move that I hope continues to open up doors in future seasons.
Here’s why last week’s drag makeover episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race was such a big deal.
P.S. It’s not just because Jaida Essence Hall got *another* win. Love her and her work.
What happened on this week’s episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Near the end of every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, RuPaul Charles tasks the girls with giving someone who’s never been in drag a drag makeover. In RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2 and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, the queens transformed their family members. In Season 5, they did over army veterans; in Season 7 and 11, the former eliminated girls; and in Season 9, the production crew.
But within all of those, the people they were tasked with making over were mostly men. The challenge was mostly found in successfully transforming a hyper-masculine bloke into the illusion of a beautiful lady. Teaching a man who wears combat boots, thongs and sneakers how to walk in heels. Guiding a man who hides his emotions and doesn’t freely express himself to be effeminate and camp. It’s always fun and exciting seeing these transformations each season but, it’s also reminded me of RuPaul’s own comments on transgendered and bio queens performing on the show.
In the interview, he said that “you can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body. It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing.”
“We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the but here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.”
Ngl but… yikes.
There are so many wonderful bio queens and non-cis-gendered drag performers who would do amazing on this show but are limited because of how they present. For a show that’s always celebrated self-love and the art form of drag, it’s kinda sucked to not see that explored outside of the mainstream understanding of queer expression and drag identities.
Cut to this week’s episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race. In the main show, the queens were tasked with transforming six women and super fans of the show into their own drag daughters. In RSCDR, Alyssa Edwards, Asia O’Hara and Trinity Taylor did over talk show host Loni Love, reality TV star Tami Roman and Miss America winner Vanessa Williams.
Each of the celebs and super fans came into the competition with their own insecurities, backgrounds and physical features. And, through the art of drag, they all discovered a new side of themselves: their new bio queen identity.
What is a bio queen?
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Thanks to @adamgcarver and @shout_festival for having me at the Shout Party last Thursday! Such a great line up of events are coming to Birmingham over the next few months, please support these Queer festivals that we are so lucky to have in Birmingham! @shout_festival 💖🌈 • Using @givefacecos pigments 💖💕🌸 • • I’m Lacey Lou and I was one of Birmingham’s first female drag queens to pave the way and represent the femmes of our community. I started in a drag house called The Housewives of Birmingham which changed Birmingham’s queer art scene for younger generations. From this I started an inclusive and fun event called Glitter Shit which is hosted by my wonderful drag sisters and loved by the city. I LOVE pink, glitter and all things fantasy! I stand for equality for all genders, sexualities, sexes, races & disabilities 💖 • • #birminghamqueens #birminghamuk #drag #draguk #dragqueen #instadrag #rpdr #femalequeen #femaledragqueen #clubkid #rupaulsdragrace #makeup #makeupartist #makeupart #mua #creative #art #glitter #beauty #instagay #gay #gayuk #queer #lgbt #lgbtq
FYI, a bio queen is a femme-presenting person who performs as a femme-presenting drag queen. They’re different to a drag king who is a femme-presenting person who performs as a masculine-presenting drag persona (think giving the illusion of facial hair instead of the illusion of none).
Historically, drag kings and trans drag performers have been a huge part of the queer community. For many, drag is a way to explore and connect with their gender identity, just like Gia Gunn who entered season 6 as a cis-gendered male before discovering their true gender as trans through their femme-presenting fishy drag persona, competing in RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 as a transwoman.
Why does this matter?
This may not seem like a big deal but dare I remind you of RuPaul’s original stance on transgendered and female-presenting performers competing. This week proved to RuPaul that, actually, bio queens and transgendered performers could just as easily fit in this show.
With queens like Crystal Methyd, Kim Chi, Yvie Oddly, Sasha Velour, Acid Betty and Milk, RuPaul’s Drag Race has already opened the door for non-conforming styles of drag outside of the fishy femme drag persona. It’s openly said that drag is political and a walking interactive art form. So, introducing other drag identities only allows for more diverse forms of queer expression and elevates and evolves the show.
Also, may I add, that whether someone is female-presenting or not makes literally no difference to the competition. The gender and biological makeup of the person underneath all that makeup does not affect their ability to act, dance, lip sync or design a garment. Periodt.
These episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race were wonderful and inspiring moments of reality TV, but also proved that drag queens are more than just masculine-presenting cis-gendered men with femme-presenting personas. The formula and fun-loving charm of this show still felt the same with cis-gendered women performing, so why not let them compete as well?
Following on from Nico Tortorella in last week’s RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race, who identifies as non-binary, I hope this leads to our first bio queen (bring back Janet the Planet as a contestant challenge), drag king and transitioning drag performers competing.
Or, at the very least, we have Dragula.