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Drag is for everyone, but 'Drag Race' isn’t

'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 14 cast. Picture: VH1

'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 14 cast. Picture: VH1

Published Dec 10, 2021

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If you're a super fan of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, then you might have also gotten a bit exhausted from the amount of “Drag Race” we received in 2021.

Everything kicked off on January 1 with the start of season 13. And since then, seven other “Drag Race” seasons aired from various parts of the globe, with “Canada’s Drag Race” season two and “Drag Race Italia” currently airing.

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When it was announced that the cast of season 14 of the US version would be announced last week, it was received with excitement and dismay since it meant a new season was starting in early 2022 – with the release date set for January 7.

However, for those of us that RuPaul Charles has in a chokehold, we eagerly waited for the Ruveal to see who would be our new batch of queens taking part in the Olympics of Drag.

One contestant who's been getting all the headlines following the cast announcement is Maddy Morphosis.

Maddy Morphosis. Picture: Twitter

The franchise’s first cisgender heterosexual man contestant. And no, you didn’t read incorrectly.

A cishet man will be competing on “RuPaul’s Drag Race”.

For those who aren't in the queer community, it might come as a surprise to see the vast amount of backlash the show received for casting him since any drag performer can audition for the show. That’s because while drag is for everyone, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” as a queer space shouldn’t be.

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“RuPaul’s Drag Race” initially started as a little reality TV show on LogoTV in 2009, with a vaseline filter and a dream.

Since then, the show has gone on will multiple awards, including multiple Emmy awards - well into the double digits already.

With queens from the show going on to star in sold-out tours, one-woman shows, star in their own TV shows and feature in TV shows and movies like we haven’t seen before.

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The queer art of drag was no longer relegated to gay bars and odd appearances on trashy TV.

Drag is now a viable career, with many of the queens that have appeared on the show being products of “Drag Race”, such as UK season 3 winner, Krystal Versace. And while this show has received much praise for giving a platform for queer artists, it is not without fault.

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The show has faced widespread criticism for its lack of trans women on the show.

RuPaul famously landed in hot water for his comments about why he didn’t allow trans women who were far along with their transition on the show.

However, since then, the show has taken leaps and bounds with getting more and more drag performers on the show that aren’t just gay men.

Following on outcry from fans, there has been a clear shift with the RuPaul hosted versions of the show having non-binary people, a cisqueer woman and trans women on the show. Recently, “All Stars” season 6 winner Kylie Sonique Love became the first trans winner for an English speaking version of the show and third across the whole franchise.

And while this is all great progress, there are still many other queer performers who don’t do “mainstream drag” in the drag space haven't had the opportunity.

This brings us to Maddy. According to him, he’s been doing drag for five years, and after getting backlash, released a statement about his inclusion on the show, Sharing details about his journey with drag and how the concepts of gender roles are arbitrary. Stating that his inclusion on the show has brought about a conversation about more representation in the drag space.

And while what he posted was all cute and kumbaya, it shows that he also doesn’t see why most of the fans – especially those in the LGBTQI+ community – are frustrated, annoyed and angry at his inclusion.

Queer culture has been at the forefront of modern-day pop culture as queer acceptance has become more common.

“RuPaul's Drag Race” has a large part to play in this, with many people being introduced to a world that was previously unavailable and queer lexicon moved from being a community only language to that of general slang.

But with that, the language has also been bastardised and retooled by cishet people with the meaning of many words and phrases moving from their original meaning.

All thanks to cishet people being allowed in queer culture. We’ve seen time and time again how things started by queer people get stolen and that people profit from it who aren’t even part of the community that birthed it.

As a cishet white man, Maddy has access to a level of privilege that is inaccessible for most queer people.

He has access to spaces that other queer people can’t even get a foot in the door in but chose to audition for the one queer space that hasn’t even made room for everyone at that table who is queer yet.

And that's the thing: there is nothing wrong with him doing drag.

By all means, we need more cishet men that are free from the shackles of toxic masculinity and feel free enough to access their femininity.

The problem comes in when a cishet person's freedom to express themselves comes at the cost of other queer people.

Just look at how the world treated Harry Styles for breaking the gender binary with regards to how he chooses to express himself in the way he presents.

Meanwhile, the femme gay men such as Miss J. Alexander from “America’s Next Top Model” fame and “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” star EJ Johnson haven’t even tasted a crumb of the level of praise and acceptance as Harry.

And the same is happening with Maddy.

His inclusion on the show is a slap in the face of every other queer performers that have auditioned for the show that didn't get cast due to them not necessarily fitting the “Drag Race” mould.

Essentially leapfrogging over them and as a cishet man will be on the biggest queer platform in the world. He is taking up the space of a queer person, and that is where the problem lies.

RuPaul, the producers at WOW Presents and Maddy, are equally to blame for this mess.

RuPaul and the production team knew exactly what they were doing since Maddy’s announcement had garnered all the media attention.

And in the process, has also taken the shine away from Kerri Colby and Kornbeard “The Snack” Jete, who are the first open trans women from the beginning on the main show.

Kornbeard “The Snack” Jete. Picture: Twitter
Kerri Colby. Picture: Twitter

Maddy also deserves all the criticism he’s received since he had the audacity to apply for the show knowing full and well that there is still a ways to go with queer representation on the show.

And as an ally should have known his place a guest in a queer space and art form.

Why couldn’t he go do drag on another reality TV competition show, such as “America’s Got Talent” or any of the other shows out there? He had to come to the one queer space that's in the mainstream.

Whether he’s a good drag queen or not is irrelevant since most of us know that “Drag Race” is a reality show first and a competition second.

It’s infuriating as a queer person who loves the show, with all its faults, and supports drag through media and in real life.

To now have a person that shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near this show invade a space meant for queer people is aggravating.

And yes, when it comes to inclusion, at some stage, having more cishet people doing drag and participating in queer art forms is great, but it should never be at the cost of other queer people.

And until media is at the stage of equal exchange where queer people are given roles and are in previously unattainable areas, we shouldn’t be opening the door yet to cishet folks.

It’s always the queer community allowing everyone in, but when it comes time to do it the other way around, we are met with homophobia, transphobia and an overall sense that we don’t belong.

Related Topics:

LGBTQIA

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