Fighting for Freedom also Means Fighting for Drag

As viewers are still recuperating from the Alyssa vs. Coco showdown, let us have a minute of silence to remember a beloved Drag Race star…time’s up, moving on.  This week’s episode Super Troopers, gave way to the long awaited makeover week!  And let’s just say for some, it was definitely an upgrade.  Shoutout to Alaska for winning the mini-challenge because it set the tone for the entire episode.  As Ru introduces the gay veterans, Alaska has a trick (or two) up her sleeve and sets herself up by picking the “twinkiest” looking veteran in house.  “This competition has gone from sisterhood of the traveling pants to sisterhood of I’m going to kill you so I can win,” well said Alaska.  Some of the queens had more difficult partners to work with than others and complained (Roxxxy) or flirted (Detox), but no one had a sweeter and cuter vet to work with than the pairing of Jinkx and Dave.  There really is no coming back from “I think I killed Judy Garland,” which is flat out blasphemy!

This week was not only about makeovers but also brought up discussions surrounding Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT).  Several veterans expanded on their reasons for joining the military and how their lives had changed because of DADT.  Coco’s partner in particular, (Horchata), stated he joined the forces because he didn’t know how to deal with being gay.  He believes the military then made him comfortable in his own skin as a gay man, and “not to take life so seriously,” which Ru correlates to drag performance. Although DADT is a serious topic, I appreciated the show’s take on it and tailoring it for viewers who may or may not be aware of its pertinence in a gay-straight culture.  Some may or may not agree with this approach, but in this sense the show’s producers are conscious of its audience.  This is a similar concept found in Ron Becker’s essay, “Guy Love: A Queer Straight Masculinity for a Post-Closet Era” because it circles ideologies of ways to think about “straight masculinity,” and that concept is literally drilled into individuals in the service regardless of gender.  This notion of straight masculinity comes up several times throughout the show and it’s more probably more evident because this challenge focuses directly on working with veterans.  Ru also asks one of the veterans how it feels living out and proud as a result of DADT, and the general consensus was being more comfortable, living in their own skin without fear.

One of the most pivotal moments in the episode everyone could agree on was Dave’s admission that he was living with AIDS.  Due to medication it was one of the reasons he could not properly walk in heels and he felt as though he had to let Jinkx know.  And rightfully so, because it is the only time this season the topic of living HIV positive has come up.  For me, one of the most educational moments (because I had always wondered) was the issue of tucking and how to tuck.  But performing drag goes beyond tucking and makeup.  Much to her surprise, Roxxxy and Izzy win the challenge and it comes down to Detox and Coco lip-synching for their lives.  I for one am ELATED to see Coco go (let’s keep it 100 Horchata looked busted), and we can now officially put that Alyssa and Coco drama to bed, no pun intended.  One of the many take aways for this week is how veterans have come to shape this country.  And although it’s not always evident ,fighting for freedom also means fighting so boys can dress up as girls and express themselves.

GC

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One thought on “Fighting for Freedom also Means Fighting for Drag

  1. Queer Spaces of Drag

    A “queer space” may go through a lot before it is considered to be a sanctuary for queer culture. The creation of said space is done through “configuring a vision of queerness through a mediation between commercial culture and urban geography.” (Polchin, 381). Chauncey discussed in Gay New York that gay men have the West village as their queer space, as well as Chelsea, and the Castro district in San Francisco. We learned from Gieseking that Park Slope was once considered a Lesbian epicenter (though it may not be considered that anymore due to the massive amounts of gentrification.) The discussion of queer space had me thinking: Do drag queens and kings have a physical space? What about transgender men and women? Where is their “West Village” or “Castro”? There does not seem to be a physical territory (neighborhood or city) that serves as the drag mecca. However, watching Ru Paul has lead me to believe the space or territory drag queens see as their space is the stage. I have come to the conclusion that a “space” can be any place an individual feels at home and can be completely open and honest with themselves without being judged. We have heard many of the queen’s on Ru Paul’s Drag Race tell us that they are more comfortable on the stage than anywhere else.

    Without a space, it is difficult to feel a sense of belonging. We witnessed this in last week’s episode “Super Troopers”, when gay Military vets visited the set and performed with the girls. Detox noted thankfully, “Fighting for freedom also means fighting for drag” and therefore fighting for the queens rights to perform on a stage for millions of viewers. The military veterans, when discussing why they joined the military, for the most part, seemed that they did not feel they had a space to feel welcome. As GC noted, Horchata was trying to hide that he was gay and hoped that the military would make him more of a man. Nebraska joined because he was kicked out of foster care and had no place else to turn. Many of the vets said being involved in the Military made them more comfortable with themselves, but “Don’t ask, don’t tell” may have made it more difficult for these individuals to feel like they belong. They were not allowed to give any indication of their true identities without being severely punished and therefore, by my definition at least, had not found their “space”.

    Without a physical queer space, it is important to find a place that can serve as a comfortable territory. The stage and performance seems to be the choice for not only drag queens but also drag kings. In Venus Boyz, a story of Drag Kings, many kings discuss how they feel most like themselves when they are performing in front of an audience. Many enjoy the power of being in complete control over what the audience views for entertainment. They are not only accepted but applauded for who they are. The stage not only provides the means of performance for entertainment, but also performance for self-comfort.

    -Chelsea P

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