Welcome to my review, recap, and power rankings of the twelfth episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 – “Wigloose The Rusical.” It’s a winking drag lip sync parody of Footloose that arrived at the perfect time, plus an “Everybody Say Glove” runway theme.
Drag Race couldn’t have gotten the timing of the release of this episode any better if they had consulted a crystal ball. This Rusical about outlawing drag comes just as many states in America are passing anti-drag bills that cast drag queens as inherently predatory and indecent.
Of course, the idea that drag is inherently adult or sexual is absolutely ludicrous. Drag and blurring the lines of gender has always been a staple of entertainment for all ages, whether that’s in Mrs. Doubtfire, Steven Universe, or William Shakespeare.
A drag queen reading a storybook to children is truly no different than the reading coming from someone dressed as a Disney Princess. Both are forms of exaggerated femininity, and it’s up to each parent to decide when that’s appropriate for their children.
Really, these bills are a simply an old tactic brought back to life in the ongoing war on transgender Americans and all LGBTQA* people waged by hate-filled Republicans.
Legislating against drag is often synonymous with restricting all forms of presenting yourself in a gender non-conforming way. It tries to enforce gender norms with threat of public shaming, felony charges, court costs, and even jail time.
It’s important as part of this conversation to state clearly that doing drag is not synonymous with being trans. Trans women are women dressing as themselves – they are not doing drag. Not all drag queens are trans women, and not all trans women have done drag. However, if it is illegal to perform in drag, does that also make it illegal for a trans person to perform as themselves? If it is criminal for a drag queen to be seen by children, does that also mean it’s criminal for a transgender person to be seen by children?
Republicans are interested in blurring those lines if it means they can harm more queer people and erase them from being visible in every day life.
If I grew up under one of these drag bans, I would not have been able to dress androgynously in high school. I would not have been able to give one of my first performances in a theatre, which was in drag as Jackie O. And, in the present day, I would be at risk of being charged with a felony as someone who sometimes drives my car while wearing long hair, make-up, and high-heeled boots just because that’s how I like to look.
Of course, these laws are not all about me – and, I don’t even live in America anymore! However, I use myself as an example to show the kind of intentional side effects that come with these laws.
No anti-drag law is truly about keeping drag confined to night clubs or removing children from risky situations. They are about trying to enforce gender norms in all walks of life, which has the side effect of criminalizing being visibly trans or queer.
I often struggle with whether I should be writing about drag on Crushing Krisis. Do people who like comic books want to see these posts? Should I be writing them as someone who is not a drag queen and is not active in a queer subculture? Is it somehow embarrassing or inappropriate for me to be writing about drag as a business professional? What would my clients think?
These laws and their accompanying discrimination is why I write about drag. Drag deserves to be visible. Drag is for everyone. Drag is art just like comics are art. Drag artists deserve essays and analysis written about them just like artists who create comic books, movies, music, and other forms of popular and fine art.
Drag isn’t going away and neither are LGBTQA* people. It’s important for everyone who can safely do so to show their support and resistance to the advance of hate in the world in any way they are able. It felt good to see my favorite television show make its own silly statement about it in a week where any form of queer joy is welcome.
(It didn’t hurt that it may have been their best Rusical of all time.)
This highly-enjoyable, highly-relevant episode of Drag Race slightly shuffled the rankings compared to last week’s comedy challenge. However, it mostly confirmed what we’ve known all along to be our top four, with one very lovely, very loose fourth-runner up.
Readers, start your engines. And, may the best drag queen win!