Having watched the finale of Season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race at least a few times now, I have been pondering a few broader thoughts about the show. Yes, some aspects of early seasons were problematic and season 9 was not without controversy, but RPDR has (albeit rather slowly!) learnt from its mistakes and has much to commend it. In today’s sea of dreadfully cheesy ‘reality’ television offerings, everyone can find a show that can be their guilty pleasure, and this glitter filled runway romp is mine. So, what have I learnt from it?
1) Never forget the folk who helped you get where you are
From the workroom discussions of their drag families back home and getting to know older gay men on the makeover challenge in season 2, through to season 9’s Sasha Velour explaining the origins of realness, the Drag Race queens often show us how remembering the past and the people who paved the way can make us stronger. This is especially important in Pride month, when it can be easy to let the parades and partying overshadow the campaigning and the struggles that many LGBTQ+ people still face.
2) Size isn’t as important as you think
As many of the self proclaimed big girls on RPDR have shown, as long as you have Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent you are destined to succeed. You can have body-ody-ody for days but folk will not put up with a terrible attitude just because of all the pretty. Give me a cheerful glamour toad over a bitchy pageant queen any day.
3) Glamour gives life
Who can truly say they have never been cheered up by the sight of something beautiful on a dull day? Whether it’s some colourful flowers, an adorable puppy or a stunning sunset, there are some moments where your eyes feed your brain such a slice of pure joy that you feel revitalised. For some of us, such beauty can be found in fashion and glamour. I know it’s not just me who feels this way as I’ve lost count of the number of times a stranger has stopped me on my commute to say how much they love something I’m wearing, or to compliment me on my hair. The season 9 queens certainly gave us plenty of iconic fashion moments, and what better way to momentarily forget about all the horrible things going on in the world?
4) If you want to dish out shade, you’d better be able to take it
This isn’t just about the delightfully catty humour that the queens fling at each other. As the reading challenge has shown, time after time, you can’t be critical of others if you are unable to accept criticism about yourself. Learning to accept criticism, poke fun at our own failings (maybe turning them into triumphs in the process), and laugh at jokes enables us to function in an open and honest community of friends/colleagues. Never throw shade behind anyone’s back though.
5) If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?
Can I get a ‘amen’?