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Dear gay men, what's the T?

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” has invaded the mainstream and opened the world’s eyes to the art form of drag and drag performance. However, RuPaul’s recent interview in The Guardian sparked controversy due to his comments surrounding transgender (trans) drag queens competing on “Drag Race” saying that drag loses its social statement when men are not the ones doing it because “Drag is a big f-you to male-dominated culture.” However, RuPaul, you and other gay men seem to have forgotten something important about drag, mainly the simple fact that you did not create, nor do you own, drag. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” owes its existence and fame to the countless trans women of color that have provided the LGBTQ community with the freedom and platform to have a TV drag competition in the first place. In fact, the gay male community loves joining the culture of trans people of color just so they can turn around and claim they created it.

Whether it be drag, voguing or the Gay Liberation Movement itself, trans women of color have fueled all forms of culture and progress in the United States only to be erased in exchanged for mainstream success. RuPaul loves to quote the ‘90s documentary “Paris is Burning” and find a way to profit off of it in one way or another, and yet many of the documentary’s stars like Venus Xtravaganza would not be allowed to compete on his show. So basically RuPaul, you are telling trans women that you are willing to quote them on T-shirts or turn them into sound bites but they're not allowed to compete on the show that wouldn't exist without them. Now when it comes to drag being “a big f-you to male-dominated culture” you are right, RuPaul. Drag is a powerful act of performance protest that fights against patriarchal norms, and nothing says “F male-dominated culture!” more than a boys-only club profiting off the work of women while simultaneously barring them from profiting off themselves. The fact of the matter is that gay men like RuPaul love to ignore that the platform that they use to fight for themselves was given to them by powerful trans women. Then once these gay men are on this platform they work as hard as they can to rewrite history to make sure that's an easier sell to the non-LGBTQ population. In fact, RuPaul wanting to erase the history of drag given to us by trans women reminds me of when the “Stonewall” movie wanted to erase the role that Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera had in the riots. Trans women rebelling against societal and gender norms invented today's definition of drag.

So maybe RuPaul, instead of barring trans women from competing on your show for not being punk rock enough, you should try thanking them for the very art form that is giving you your career. It really is quite a shame that RuPaul doesn't want trans women on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” because based on personality and beliefs something tells me he would get along really well with Caitlyn Jenner. 

 

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