Drag Race Makes Us Insane. Here's Why (OPINION)
One week ago I was on hand at Roscoe's Tavern in Chicago to see Trixie Mattel in the flesh react to seeing herself win RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 3. I felt Trixie's highs and predicted her lows that evening. I was a buzzing, chattering gay Tasmanian Devil at dinner afterwards - elated that my favorite queen snatched the crown in what some would consider to be an upset.
But as it turns out, it was I who was upset. Seamless transition Nicholas. After keeping tabs on Trixie's Twitter and Instagram accounts since she lost season seven, I've felt a close connection with her. She revers Dolly Parton - an important figure for any gay boy who grew up in the hills of East Tennessee (such as myself) - and is charming, whip-smart, confident - everything I could hope to aspire to.
Seeing Trixie in person was wild. Like Dolly, she was larger than life. Her reactions to the finale and the audience were electric, and her demeanor was nothing if not regal. But the following day when my brief moment basking in the presence of someone whose life I had so closely followed for years - not to mention when an All Stars season that had defined my Thursday nights and brought me closer to my Chicago friends - were over, I was crestfallen. The anticipation, the excitement, the Tasmanian Devil Nick, were briefly cut off. And I turned into, well, a b*tch.
But am I crazy? Maybe, but not for my strong reaction to RuPaul's Drag Race. For centuries celebrities have allowed us to follow their journeys - to have a stake in their successes and failures. Without fandom - whether for celebrities or the characters that they play - movie ticket sales would slump and tabloid websites would cease to exist. The media landscape as a whole would change.
With the rise of social media, we became even more intertwined with the celebrities we identify with. As if witnessing their noteworthy moments through Instagram and Facebook wasn't enough, we now can follow even the mundane, live no less, through Snapchat, Instagram Story, and Facebook Live. We know more about these peoples' days than we do about some of our closest friends.
All of this is to say that gays - who in Drag Race can find dozens of highly relatable, social media-savvy superstars to adore - are hooked. We're in love. The amount of time we invest in drag queens through retweeting, double tapping, and scheduling our Thursday evenings is not insignificant. So when everything comes to a head, we go nuts.
And when we don't get our way, or even when we do, we express our feelings... strongly. I expressed my season finale blues through being mopey and disliking Shangela fans. Some threw slurs at each other online, sparred with friends IRL, or simply demeaned the hard-working, well-intended, and sometimes barrier-breaking queens we like to think we support. Basically, we all act a fool.
In fact there's even a diagnosis for extreme celebrity fandom called Celebrity Worship Syndrome. This, of course, affects a minuscule portion of the population and is driven by mental instability, but it is telling as to how far things can go. We need to enjoy the highs that come with loving these amazing characters, but also anticipate the lows. We're children being dragged away from Disney World at the end of the day. Overstimulated from the experience and ready to give those around us hell as we crash. Maybe for season 10 we can learn to take Drag Race with a grail of salt. After all, it's just drag.
This post is the opinion of this contributing writer to Instinct Magazine. Opinion pieces do not always reflect the stance of the magazine or the other contributing writers.