RuPaul causes controversy with recent comments
‘Charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent’.
Prior to this week that was apparently all you needed to demonstrate in order to win RuPaul’s Drag Race, but the waters have become muddied with RuPaul embroiled a fierce debate over whether transgender women should be allowed to partake in the show.
When Ru was asked as to whether he would allow a transgender woman to take part he said, “Probably not. You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body. It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing.”
Ru later doubled down on Twitter and tweeted to his thousands of followers that, “You can take performance enhancing drugs and still be an athlete, just not in the Olympics.”
The aftermath has seen a furious response from the LGBT community with even stars and winners of the reality show such as Willam Belli calling Ru out for discrimination.
Ru has now apologised for any offense caused but the question remains, and the damage potentially done. Discrimination has no place in the LGBT community and trans women are woman – that isn’t even a question – I do not believe that Ru intended this when he made his comments.
By definition, a drag queen is ‘a man who ostentatiously dresses up in women's clothes.’ It’s a simplistic definition and I prefer to see the art of drag as the hype definition of gender qualities for the sake of entertainment.
It is without doubt that the way that Ru put his words have caused offense, to suggest that a transgender woman is relatable to someone who is doping is insensitive and the words Ru chose should have been more considered.
At the same time though the reality has introduced millions of people to the beauty of drag, here in Manchester we are often treated to these stars coming to grace the stage, without Drag Race it is unlikely that we would have ever heard of most of these stars.
As Ru would say it’s hugely important to know your herstory, Martha P Johnson was a trans drag queen who played a major role in Stonewall and early LGBT activism, we shouldn’t forget the contribution of such icons (Canal-St editor comments: It is unclear if Martha ever under went GRS).
Ru’s comments have certainly opened debate and we should all reflect on gay and trans culture.
What side of the debate do you fall on?
By Daniel Smith for Canal St Online.