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Drag queens take the stage on TV

By Keirah Chen, Natalie Gao and Michelle Qiao Apr. 18, 2021

Quincy Han Art


Referencing entertainment in which performers challenge gender stereotypes and wear clothing conventionally worn by the opposite sex, drag has existed since the 19th century. Since then, the term “drag” has often been linked to the LGBTQ+ community. More recently, drag has expanded and evolved, gaining more attention with the release of shows like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Pose” in the 2000s.


Released in 2009, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is a reality competition show that mainly features gay cisgender men competing to become America’s next drag superstar. Contestants dress up in glamorous dresses and put on performances that include lip syncing to songs, dancing and imitating various female celebrities. Focusing on a more concentrated audience, “Pose” features African-American and Latino members of the LGBTQ+ community thriving in drag ball culture, an underground LGBTQ+ subculture in which people compete for trophies and prizes by dancing, lip syncing or modeling at balls. “Pose’s” synopsis also extends beyond the general premise of drag, going in depth about the discrimination characters face due to their sexuality and race.


Focusing on a more concentrated audience, “Pose” features African-American and Latino members of the LGBTQ+ community thriving in drag ball culture

People appreciate shows like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Pose” for the representation they bring. Many critics praised “Pose’s” diverse cast and realistic take on life for non-white, non-heterosexual lives during the 1980s. “Pose” also individually features characters, enabling audiences to develop deeper interpersonal understanding towards the LGBTQ+ community. One character, Damon, was disowned by his family for his sexual identity, which was widely praised by audience for providing a real and raw take on LGBTQ+ discrimination.


RuPaul’s Drag Race also received positive reviews from critics for its breakdown of gender stereotypes. The LGBTQ+ community has praised the show for reinforcing the idea that being feminine or acting feminine does not make you ‘less of a man’. Additionally, the community views “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” as an educational turning point because it fights homophobia and sexism while also educating viewers on things like HIV/AIDS and conversion therapy. However, “RuPauls Drag Race” has faced controversy for its treatment of non-white contestants. Various contestants of color spoke about their experiences receiving hate mail from fans and called for more inclusive change. Furthermore, members of the LGBTQ+ community pointed out the lack of representation on the show. At first the only contestants were gay cisgender men. This changed in 2019 when “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” premiered and featured transgender, heterosexual and non-binary contestants.


The LGBTQ+ community has praised the show for reinforcing the idea that being feminine or acting feminine does not make you ‘less of a man’.

The show “Pose” takes a different approach to drag. It is largely inspired by drag balls present during the Harlem Renaissance, where black LGBTQ+ individuals would gather at places such as the Harlem Hamilton Lodge and participate in drag. These drag balls often featured “houses,” or groups of drag queens, with the most experienced serving as a mother or father of the house. Pose places a large emphasis on the role of houses in the LGBTQ+ community, depicting not just drag queens and balls as a form of visual entertainment but also the norms and history of drag culture.

“‘Pose’ and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ have been a huge part of queer and drag culture, and popularizing it could encourage younger people to be more open-minded,” Freshman Karl Xing said.

 

About the Contributors

Keirah Chen

Staff Writer


Keirah Chen is a sophomore at Leland high school and is a staff writer. She likes going places with friends and watching horror movies.










Natalie Gao

Staff Writer


Natalie Gao is a sophomore at Leland High School and a staff writer. She likes playing Tetris and making mac and cheese in her free time.










Michelle Qiao

Staff Writer


Michelle Qiao is a sophomore at Leland High School and a staff writer. She loves to play volleyball and spends her free time reading, drinking coffee and watching Pixar movies.

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