I was walking through RuPaul’s DragCon in New York City back in September and was quite taken aback by just how populated the 3-day event turned out to be.
Outside of the press area it was hard to get around, especially when you walked by some of the bigger queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race like Alyssa Edwards and Trixie Mattel who had lines that seemed to go to another country.
I’m not stupid, though. I’m fully aware that any sort of DragCon could’ve barely fit my New York City apartment ten years ago (right before the show began) if something like this ever existed. It’s clear that RPDR has categorically changed society overall, but are they also responsible for uniting our community?
When RPDR started it was designed more for the gay man in mind, as the first couple of seasons were a tad quieter when it came to the overall audience of who watched it. As the show went on, it grew in popularity, so much so that it went beyond the LGBTQ community and into the heterosexual world where straight men and women were watching and quoting the show.
The insane part of this was that the world of drag was somewhat considered to be the “scarlet letter” of our community (a Jinkx Monsoon quote) in that it was embarrassing to reveal that you did this art form. Many gay men would think that you wanted to be a woman or had a hard time wrapping their brains around hooking up with a drag queen even in their regular clothes. The ignorance ran deep within many men who saw them as separate or below from the rest of us, unless you were on an iconic level like RuPaul or Lady Bunny.
Then the cultural phenomenon known as RuPaul’s Drag Race began, and things started to shift. Drag queens became the new “it” celebrity in the LGBTQ community. Millions of people from all walks of life wanted to take a selfie with them, hang with them, be their friend and just enjoy their presence. It’s like they became our movie stars, where Julia Roberts in this case was Bianca Del Rio or Katya.
Would Bianca or Katya’s careers fared as well if this platform didn’t exist? Sad to say but probably not, even though they are infinitely talented just like the rest of the girls who have been on (and off) the show.
The popularity of this show has also immensely helped LGBTQ businesses let alone our community. Bars across the nation have thrived when new episodes of this show have aired. Merchandise has also skyrocketed for several queens from the show. It’s also created immense opportunities for RuPaul, the judges and everyone involved. Heck RPDR even swept at The Emmy’s this year.
Never has a queer show like this been so positive and forthright for our community. We still have our divisive issues within each section of the LGBTQ world, but a show where queens excel in comedy, fashion and more has done better than bad for us in the ten years that it has been on. Has it ultimately unified us though?
I took to the streets (AKA social media) and asked my friends the same question.
“I feel like people don’t miss what they’ve never experienced so if it never existed they wouldn’t miss but they may think of something similar conceptually without realizing it.”
“LGBTs are so culturally adroit we’d create a different touchstone even if RPDR didnt exist.”
“Well, we certainly wouldn’t be as FABULOUS!!”
Do you think RPDR has brought our community together?
This post 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.