On Friday night, I had the most SICKENING night (and that’s a good thing, I promise!) I’d had in a long time. I spent my night at the Riviera Theatre in the audience of the RuPaul’s Drag Race Battle of the Seasons Extravaganza Tour 2016! I laughed, screamed, cheered, and almost cried as I watched legendary drag queens strut their stuff for a few hours.
But I know a few of you might be wondering the same thing I’ve been asked many, many times: What’s the deal with this girly, fashion-obsessed blogger chick and her love of drag queens?
It started with a lot of free time. (Doesn’t everything?) I spent my senior winter break in college alone in my townhouse, taking an online class and binge-watching everything I could find on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Multiple friends of mine had been talking about Drag Race for months, and I finally decided to give it a try one night. As I sat in my bathroom, curling my hair and doing my makeup while the first episode of season six played on my iPad, I knew I was hooked. There was something so fascinating about these men in dresses, looking better than me in heels and wigs and makeup, and I ended up coming home from dinner as soon as I could, finishing the season in a day and a half. Then came seasons 1 – 5, and I managed to get through those before the seventh season premiered live on TV that spring.
As I made my way through the seasons, I quickly learned that it wasn’t just about the outfits and the drama between queens. So many of these stars had gone through hell and back just because they were gay or feminine, and they were brave enough not only to share their stories for a TV audience, but to keep on doing drag and making themselves happy despite the hardships. As someone who’d been through hardship before, I related – but I also learned more about strength and bravery from TV drag queens than I ever did from skipping a grade, being bullied in school, or having cancer. People supported me – a blonde girl from a middle-class family – through everything. Most of these queens didn’t have that. They had more haters than friends, some of which were their own family members. And yet, they still walked down the drag runway like they’d been born to smile and look gorgeous.
These stories and struggles came to life at the Battle of the Seasons show this weekend. Multiple queens, as well as host Michelle Visage, talked about accepting everyone regardless of how they identify and no matter their age. It was a safe space for everyone – even for “regular” girls who just didn’t know where they fit in for most of their lives. Michelle Visage even sang a beautiful Madonna song set to a montage of photos from the Stonewall riots, the AIDS crisis, and modern pro-gay marriage rallies. (And I cried. I cried a LOT.)
I’m not someone who likes to get political in public, but I will always vocally support a person – any gender, any sexuality – who has overcome obstacles and suffered for what they love. Watching Drag Race has continued to inspire me every day and remind me to love myself for all I am, to never stop fighting for what I want or believe in, and to keep my support system close – you never know when you’ll need them the most. Drag Race provides a love and a support system for these performers, and my friends and family who love and accept me unconditionally – whether they watch the show or not – are mine.
If you want to watch the show, seasons 4-7 are available on Hulu, and seasons 4-6 are commercial-free on Amazon Prime. If not, hey, I won’t judge you – but you’re missing out on some of the best fashion I’ve ever seen.
Do you watch RuPaul’s Drag Race? Who are your favorite contestants? If you don’t watch, what shows or pop culture phenomenons have inspired you? Share in the comments!