RuPaul in drag on 'RuPaul's Drag Race.'

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Doesn’t Represent the Diverse World of Drag

With kings, queens and many other types of performers, this world has so much more to offer than the VH1 show would have you think.
March 20, 2020
7 mins read

The 12th season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” recently began its run on VH1 and introduced audiences to 13 new drag queens. Of the performers we’ve been introduced to over the years, the majority of them have been cisgender gay men. Anyone can audition for the show, but there seems to be a pattern with who actually ends up being cast.

Because the show is the most mainstream platform for drag performers, a lot of talent gets left behind or dismissed. It’s not feasible for every single performer to appear on the show, but there is a lot of drag that exists outside of VH1.

The show does not fully represent each drag type or performer. There are drag queens, kings, general performers and more. One of the beauties of drag is that it’s open to the performer’s interpretation, and they decide how they want to present themselves.

If you are a fan of the show and the queens that appear on it, I highly encourage you to seek out shows local to your area and support drag performers who may not fit the typical casting “type.” It’ll open a new world of drag for you and give performers a bigger platform and fan base.

Representation on the Show

While the number of participants on the show have overwhelmingly been cisgender males, a few contestants on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” have come out as transgender, nonbinary, genderfluid or genderqueer. The fact that these queens appeared on the show is great for representation of the community.

There have been moments where queens revealed their gender identity during the show, like Monica Beverly Hillz, who came out as transgender in Season 5.

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Another queen, Gia Gunn, appeared on the show twice. She appeared on Season 6 before coming out as transgender. She came out in April 2017 and then competed on Season 4 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars” in 2018.

Peppermint, who competed on Season 9, is the only contestant thus far to have come out as a transgender woman before her season aired.

A number of queens who have done extremely well on the show have also come out as nongender-conforming. This includes winners Sasha Velour, Jinkx Monsoon, Violet Chachki, as well as fan favorites Aja and Adore Delano.

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Why is all of this important? These are some incredibly prominent and skilled queens, and they have appeared on one of the biggest platforms that exists for their talents. Since they had such an impact on the show, it makes one wonder what would have happened if they weren’t cast due to their gender identity.

The number of queens that represent the transgender and nonbinary community is growing, but there are still a ton of queens who don’t get to make an appearance on such a large platform.

RuGirls to the Local Scene

RuGirls are queens that have appeared on the show and are some of the most well-known drag performers — for good reason. Their shows are highly anticipated and attended. The tickets cost a decent amount of money, but it’s kind of expected with the crowds some of them can draw.

If they’re not local to you, RuGirls only come around once in a while, so you want to take the opportunity to see them. However, there is likely a very active drag scene somewhere near you where you can have just as much fun as you would at a RuGirl show.

With local drag shows, you probably won’t have to shell out more than $5 or $10 for entry. The local shows usually have a decent bill, so you can anticipate seeing a number of talented performers. They will get personal with you during their set, make you laugh and may even be around to talk after everything is over. The majority of them are probably working for tips, so you know they will be putting their best performance on to earn them.

There is nothing wrong with loving a RuGirl, but you may find someone who performs just as well if you step outside of that little “RuPaul’s Drag Race” bubble.

Pageant, Comedy Queen, What Else?

RuPaul has introduced us to a lot of queens over the years, and a lot of them are categorized as “pageant” or “comedy” queens. Well, what else is there? A lot.

Drag is basically a costume. Features and mannerisms are exaggerated; overall, it’s a means of entertainment and self-expression.

Though its traditionally men imitating women, there are numerous other forms of drag. Some women may dress up as men and perform as a drag king, while others may not conform to anything and simply perform as whatever they like, maybe a character or a creature.

If you stick to “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” you may be confined to viewing a small number of drag “types.” In a past season, Rupaul scrutinized Alaska for appearing in male drag during a challenge.

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Male drag is just as fun as female drag, but you probably won’t see a lot of it on the show, so you may want to turn to a local scene for more variety.


My main point is there is a lot of drag that you don’t see featured on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” This could be due to performers not being cast because of their gender identity, performers sticking to the local scene or their type of drag being overlooked. Fans could certainly change that. As more seasons of the show are released, there will slowly be more representation among those who always end up being cast.

These performers have to start somewhere, and your support could help them skyrocket into the public eye. There is not a lot of “underground” drag on television or social media, and it’s time to change that, one performance at a time. You can give so much support by following and promoting local queens on social media, going to their shows and tipping them: You may just find your new favorite drag performer.

Lauren Buchko, Michigan State University

Writer Profile

Lauren Buchko

Michigan State University
Journalism and Media Relations

Hello! I’m Lauren and I have an interest in design and visual media. I love to experience new things and try to make life an adventure.

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