RuPaul's "No T, No Shade" Year In Review
We had the crazy idea that instead of us, your favorite magazine editors and writers, reciting our faves, raves and roastings of the year that was 2013, why not hand things over to a true pop-culture expert. So naturally we asked self-professed “ultimate observer” RuPaul, performer, host, producer and (in our humble opinion) the fiercest and most fabulous of the divas. No topic was off limits, no
2013: It was the best of years; it was the worst of years. On a professional level for me, it was fantastic. I’ve been doing this coming up on 32 years, and who would have guessed that I could have the kind of success that I have right now in this very moment? On a personal level, though, the challenges, as you stay on this planet long enough and you see the dichotomies so clearly, are heartbreaking at times. The longer I’ve stayed on the planet, the more challenging it becomes to stay balanced and not get too angry at the polar opposites that exist.
I’ve always been around super-sensitive, super-creative people, and usually those people have a hard time because they see things that other people can’t see. They have the high highs and the low lows. So keeping that balance is always a challenge, specifically the unconsciousness that exists. We love our smartphones and texting and all that stuff, but along with that comes this unconsciousness that makes me feel that much more alone. This sort of feeling that everyone’s asleep. It’s no accident that in the past 10 years we’ve had more and more zombie movies, because zombie movies are a parable for being unconscious. Being the walking dead. And it just does something to me when I see someone walking down the street just looking at their phone. It just pushes up against this area in me that reminds me of when I was a kid, when I would think, “Am I the only one that’s awake?”
This year we’ve seen advancements that aren’t even gay issues; they’re human rights issues. If you pay taxes, then you deserve equal treatment under the law. It’s absurd that it’s gone on this long! I’ve been around for many years now, and I’ve seen the pendulum swing both ways. So yes, let’s celebrate, but let’s really understand what lies beneath laws that discriminate, and make sure that it doesn’t happen again. And I hate to burst your bubble, but it usually does.
George Orwell explained it really well in his beautiful parable Animal Farm, where the animals forget why they had a revolution in the first place. And that’s a very huge, huge fear. It’s human nature that we just forget and we take things for granted. But we could put some things in place that would help us remember. And what helps us remember is self-love. It all starts with us. If you love yourself, you’ll realize that there are other people on the planet who deserve to be loved, who deserve recognition.
We have to wake up and realize that we are not separate from one another. That’s where it really all begins. But we have to be very careful when aligning with straight celebrities that come out for gay issues, that it’s not this thing where we’re saying, “Look! So-and-so likes us, so we can stand up proud.” Or putting straight people on the cover of gay magazines just because. It sends this subconscious message of shame. It says, “Look! So-and-so likes us, so we can like ourselves.” The truth is that it all starts within. The biggest threat to gay people is self-loathing and shame. And that is something that each of us can change right now in this very moment. But I think we perpetuate that shame when we align ourselves and say, “Look. Straight people like us.” We should say, “Wait a minute. Why wouldn’t straight people like you?”
And look, I’m fucking old! I’ve seen this shit, and I’ve been paying attention. I went to my first gay pride parade in Atlanta in 1982, and I’ve seen how certain cycles continue over and over. You see the gay rights movement, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and you see how it changes. You would think that black folks would naturally align with the women’s movement or the gay rights movement—or vice versa—because it’s the same fucking thing. But you realize that the human ego wants to isolate itself. The ego wants to make things separate.
But this is something that anyone reading this can do on a personal level. This is not something that you get together and banter. This is something each person has to choose to do individually. So why don’t we start the new year off by being present and recognizing that we’re not separate from one another.
This year has been a challenge. I’ve been challenged to let go of old ideas and to walk in a new consciousness. It’s very easy to just go on the same old directives, the same old ideas I have of myself. It’s important for me to change my personal identity, to redefine myself.
And I’ve said this in every single interview, but that’s the whole thing of what drag is all about—not taking yourself too seriously. Understand that this is just a shell and that your hairstyle, your car, your politics—it all comes and goes. No structure is stable, but what is stable is the common bond between us. That’s where you put the focus.
Pick up the new December/January issue of Instinct for more of our cover story with RuPaul! Call and order your copy today: (888) 45-INSTINCT | (888) 454-6784
We’re not just reflecting with Ru—we’re looking forward, too! Click here for our Ru Web Exclusive and get the dish on Season 6 of Drag Race, Ru’s upcoming album and what else is in store for 2014