I'm a little fearful when it comes to writing about this topic, but… here we go.
RuPaul's Drag Race has been one of the most talked about shows on television for the past decade. As the years have gone on, it has brought in millions upon millions of fans who not only enjoy watching the program but have also become fans of the queens as well.
The "fan" aspect of RPDR, in my honest opinion, has gotten completely out of control. It is something that the show itself doesn't touch much on during any of the episodes, but is one that needs to be highlighted as several fans go completely out of bounds when it comes to defending a queen that they like and spewing absolute bile at another.
This didn't really happen in the first couple of seasons of the show, as social media wasn't as prevalent as it is today. Then season 4 happened, which featured the dueling battles of Phi Phi O' Hara and Sharon Needles. Editing or not, the show favored Sharon as the hero and Phi Phi as the villain.
Sharon won the season and pretty much got very little negative feedback from fans since taking home the crown. Phi Phi, however, has received several death threats for years, most notably during her time on All Stars 2 when she was honest about her opinions towards Alyssa Edwards.
This is where the line needs to be drawn. Somebody speaking honestly about another person does not illicit anyone sending them death threats from an account where you don't have any real information about you. It's takes voracity to a whole other level, and no one deserves to have that happen to them regardless of how they acted on a television show. Let's repeat that there: it's a television show. It's designed for entertainment, not for death threats.
Several other queens since have felt the wrath of the RPDR fanbase in similar ways. Roxxxy Andrews got a ton of backlash during season 5 for how she treated Jinkx Monsoon. And then there's the racist trolls who viciously attacked Kennedy Davenport when she eliminated Katya in season 7. Racism is another topic that falls within the toxicity of this fan base, in that several queens of color have talked about being called the "N" word on social media. It's downright wrong and completely disgusting on all levels.
The only time this topic has ever really truly been discussed on the show was during the season 9 reunion. Several of the queens questioned Valentina over her social media efforts to quiet down her fans that consistently attacked them. Her defense fell on deaf ears because of it, both on and off the show, however she still won Miss Congeniality at the end of the season.
Her congenial efforts were also questioned as the other queens flipped the award to really have it be called "Fan Favorite". It's a debatable topic, however, as several queens who have won it before blur the lines on both ends as they were nice and very well-liked (Katya, BenDeLaCreme, Latrice Royale, etc).
This season didn't really have too much toxicity going on until Asia O'Hara decided to say that Miz Cracker wasn't a star in the most recent episode of the show. Cracker was then eliminated after a lip sync against Kameron Michaels. Then, Asia's Instagram became flooded with snake emojis (which became popular due to the Kim Kardashian/Taylor Swift drama a couple of years back), and now her most recent upload doesn't allow anyone to leave comments. This might be her saying, "enough is enough."
So where do we go from here? It's evident that these social media platforms are not doing as much as they should given the amount of hatred that is out there, so will this continue to spiral out of control? I think its up to some of these queens to really put it out there to their fans that hatred like this won't be accepted nor tolerated (many of them do), and that it really is a television show at the end of the day.
Drag culture was so different over a decade ago, and now its a community that has changed so much that we still need to highlight the negativity that has developed because of that and figure out a way to diminish it so that each queen that comes onto this show feels safe and secure with who she is, regardless of the nasty things people have to say.
In conclusion: treat people the way that you want to be treated. That's all.
This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.