Why Ru Paul is my guru, not my saviourMay 26, 2023
Ru Paul. A household name. His empire stretches across the galaxy and can be watched through Ru Paul’s Drag Race in many cultures. Drag Queen Entertainment has become a spectacular global sport. And it’s fabulous.
Many in the Drag King community have criticised Ru Paul for not including Drag Kings in his shows. I have a different point of view.
While I must admit, I have not watched many Drag Races and do not know the household names of the Queens, it’s not out of disrespect. I’ve just been busy babes! Since Dec 2020 I’ve mentored 78 first-time Drag Kings and I have another 7 on the way. I’ve earned the crown of The King Coach and The Mother of Drag Kings!
I have, however, made time to take Ru Paul’s Masterclass on Self Expression and Authenticity. And Oh My Goodness. It is GOOOOD. Ru Paul is an extraordinary human being whose teachings made me feel whole and complete as a lesbian, as a queer human again. He is who I go to when I get wobbly about who I am. When I forget who I am. To restore my queer soul when the world has stretched it beyond recognition.
His guidance is undeniably powerful and his own life story is incredibly moving. He is a demonstration of what’s possible when one surrenders to spiritual and personal growth and then gives it away to others. He has my utmost appreciation and respect.
However, Ru Paul is not my saviour. I have no expectation or even desire for him to do other than what he does best - Ru Paul's Drag Race. Given his generation and his background, it makes total sense that he is in the world of Drag Queens. Why should he deviate from his life’s work? He would be dipping into a world he doesn't know.
Although there are many schools of thought on this, my sense is that although there is some overlap, Drag Kings and Drag Queens are not the same creatures. And we don’t need to be. There’s room enough for everyone.
And while Drag Queens have become mainstream and people still look at me blankly when I say I’m a Drag King, there is something precious about being where we are as a Drag King culture.
We are not mainstream. We are underground. And there are many many benefits to being underground and not constrained by the limitations of the mainstream.
Let’s enjoy it while we can!
Some benefits include:
- We can get away with a lot more
- We are not accountable to anyone or any board or tied to any particular funding that constrains our artistic expression.
- We don’t have to ‘reign it in’ or be ‘on brand.’
- We connect as a community versus the Celebrities and the Consumers.
- We get to be experimental in our art and entertainment.
- We are free to express ourselves as Kings or Things or whatever we invent.
I am not waiting for Ru Paul to come and save Drag King culture and pull it up by the short and curlies, the beef and burlies, and swing it up on the world stage. Being ‘famous’ and becoming a celebrity is not a life that I would wish on my worst enemy. It comes with its own set of problems.
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with competing with Drag Queens or auditioning for Drag Race as a Drag King or upping your game as a professional entertainer. As I said, there is room enough for everyone - and for everyone’s unique self-expression and path.
As a Drag King community, let’s honour where we are at as a culture. There is something precious and valuable about being at each stage of the game. And although there may be a Drag Race happening around the world, we can still choose how we play the game. We get the privilege of inventing our own path and doing it in our own unique expression.
Real Kings fix each other’s crowns.
The King Coach
P.S. If you wanna be a Drag King, drop your name down on the waiting list to be part of the Kings of Joy for first-time Drag Kings.
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