September 16, 2020
The ever-expanding empire of RuPaul’s Drag Race is now making its way over to the UK. After years of rumours and promises, the British version has finally found a home on BBC Three and will arrive the UK at some point this year.
When the question was asked to Chiyo Gomes, one of the most famous drag kings in the UK about their views on the arrival of RuPaul’s Drag Race in the UK, well, they had some fair points to be pointed out.
Chiyo Gomes A.K.A “Stray Mutt” is a member of the KOC initiative and aren’t afraid to get controversial on the stage, “I’m tired of trying to define drag and love just watching it blossom. Drag is owning a space, making it yours, creating something and having the ability to make people want to keep watching you.”
According to Gomes, a show like RuPaul’s Drag Race has done undeniably great work in lighting up the mainstream appetite for drag, giving the drag queens around the world a platform and well-deserved visibility. But, drag Race has always privileged cisgender male queens. A trans woman may have been runner-up last year, but the show is structurally designed to celebrate men dressing up as women, unashamed of its repeated catchphrase, “Gentlemen, start your engines, and may the best woman win!”
“You will never see an afab (assigned female at birth) queen on Drag Race, or a drag king that is afab, because Drag Race and a lot of gay men are misogynistic as f**k,” he said.
Gomes have experienced racism and transphobia on the drag scene many times. Gomes got into drag scene while studying in University and wanted to make some money so started doing sex work. Gomes says that still today it’s very difficult for them to distinguish between their drag persona and trans personality as they became so personally attached to drag when they got into drag, they even used their real name as drag name.
Gomes said that they feel very unsafe while performing. “Drag is multi-million dollar industry all over the world but I can name only 4-5 places on the top of their head where I feel safe while performing. Whenever I perform in front of white, cis men, specially if they are heterosexual and have had quite a few drinks, they get excited about the stuff they don’t understand and they get mad about it.”
They said that by pointing out RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant’s sexuality, they aren’t implying that cisgender drag artists should not get an opportunity to perform on stages, everyone can share the stage, but they shouldn’t be on every stage.
We can just hope RuPaul to be careful. This UK venture might just be an extension of their monopoly, but it has the risk of dividing up the LGBTQ community in U.K and erasing many of the transgender’s experiences. They have worked hard to build their place there, it shouldn’t be taken away. It should be ensured that every step RuPaul takes going forward respects the diversity of UK drag community and not only the whims of the show and its ratings. This isn’t just TV, this is their lives.
Source – pinknews.com, the guardian.com, standard.co.uk