We're less than a week away from the premiere of the sixth season of RuPaul's Drag Race. The show has amassed quite a following over the years and become part of today's pop culture dialogue in the process. However, every once in a while, I'll come across some gay men who express disdain for the show (and drag, in general). Don't get me wrong -- I'm not stating that it's a mandatory requirement for all homosexuals to watch Drag Race religiously, but that dismissive attitude along with the labeling of the show as "too gay" is baffling. Especially when you consider how many of these guys worship all the iconic divas that pop music has to offer or tune into other reality TV shows to watch "housewives" behave badly.
In an effort to explain the influence of RuPaul and importance of drag, I thought it'd be a good idea to break down how drag has impacted modern-day culture. Whether or not you care to admit it, our world is heavily influenced by drag. It doesn't always come in the form of a man donning a big wig, false eyelashes, make-up, tights and heels. Sometimes, drag is your favorite female singer changing her look to promote her music. Gaga, Britney, Beyoncé, Katy, Christina... they have all utilized the illusion of drag to help them out during various moments in their careers. Madonna is the queen of being a chameleon, with all the pivotal moments of her history revolving around a physical transformation of some sort. And Cher and Tina Turner were the original drag trendsetters when they donned wigs during some of their early performances.
Do you have any childhood memories of your mother, aunts or sisters primping for a night on the town? Guess what? That's drag, too. Women rarely leave the house without making sure their hair is coiffed and their make-up is properly applied -- unless they're off to the gym. But even then, the hair is in a neat ponytail and the Lululemon yoga pants are color coordinated with a sports bra.
What about men? Just because you're not a drag queen doesn't mean you're exempt from the art of transformation. Male drag might come in the form of the designer suit and the Italian loafers that are worn to the office. Maybe it's the jeans and form-fitted tee shirt that get sported during a night of bar hopping. It could also be the strategically tailored shirt that shows off a glimpse of sculpted obliques while at the gym. Even beachwear is considered drag since the criteria for selecting a swimsuit is based on how it flatters our bodies and the positive reactions we hope we'll receive from others while wearing it.
So you see, drag is part of our everyday lives. It's an illusion that we use to alter our appearance at various moments. Whether its getting dressed to go to work, to go workout, or to go work it at a social event, drag helps shape the perception of how we want people to see us. That's the basic premise of drag at its core.
Of course, if you insist on being part of that elitist bunch of gay men who think RuPaul's Drag Race is "too gay" to watch, that's your prerogative. However, it's also your loss. Drag is an art form, and it's also fun. It's the act of dressing up (or in some cases, dressing down) and having a good time while doing so. It can seduce and captivate while also having the ability to be playfully irreverent. Therein lies the beauty and the humor of the artistry that lives within drag. If you don't get that, then you are not willing to see past the illusions that exist not only in yourself, but also within our society. To put it bluntly, you're not in on the joke.
And here's one final thought to all the highbrow, hyper-masculine gay men who look down on the show: You're a homosexual male. As such, it is highly probable that you engage in man-on-man sexual activity. It really doesn't get any gayer than that.
Still think that an entertaining TV show revolving around drag queens is "too gay" for you?