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RuPaul on straight appropriation of gay culture


Vulture just published an interview E. Alex Young and RuPaul, who has a lot to say about straight appropriation of gay culture. Although RuPaul’s persona on TV is somewhat sweet and nurturing to his fellow queens, he swears A LOT about straight pop culture–and for good reason. It’s not often that we hear celebrities call out something as abstract as cultural appropriation in mainstream media. See the excerpt below, or the [full interview via Vulture.][1]

What do you think of Lip Sync Battle and Jimmy Fallon?
Oh, I don’t think of it. It’s a poor ripoff of our show. Regular, straight pop culture has liberally lifted things from gay culture as long as I can remember. And that’s fine, because guess what? We have so much more where that comes from. Take it! That’s why [my new show] Gay for Play is such a fun thing, because we’ve taken the best of the gay sensibility and put it all in one place. And we’re showing these bitches how it’s really done. But it’s funny how that works, even in gay culture. There’s a certain “gay shame.” Gay people will accept a straight pop star over a gay pop star, or they will accept a straight version of a gay thing, because there’s still so much self-loathing, you know?

They talk so much about acceptance now today and it’s like, yes, but trust me — I’m old and I know this shit — it’s superficial. Because as soon as the lights go out, you’ll see how advanced people’s thinking is. This so-called “Will & Grace acceptance” era is just people fucking posing. Things haven’t changed that much. You see it in politics right now — that’s the fucking truth of people. And you know, people will have you think, “Oh, we’re fashion. We’re gay. That’s my gay over there!” It’s like, no. We’re still a very, very, very primitive culture.

*Image of RuPaul via NY Mag


I hate to discuss RuPaul without addressing his problematic framing of transgender communities. There was so much more going on in this interview than a call-out of cultural appropriation…
This article does a good job of responding to it:


Point taken, and appreciated!


Ugh. I do want to support/like RuPaul but he comes off as wildly arrogant:

In an interview published today on Vulture, the world’s most famous drag queen — who identifies as a gay man — was asked to respond to the current “discourse on the internet,” which was defined by the entertainment news site as “creating demarcations within language and saying you can, or cannot, say something.”

The interviewer contrasts this attitude with drag culture, which the article contends has “always been about playing with language and taking it apart and blurring boundaries.”

“It’s stupid. They’re dumb, and it’s stupid,” RuPaul responded. To illustrate his point, the Drag Race host said a statement such as “I love corn dogs” could be misinterpreted by those who “have an agenda” to mean something other than his intention, including a desire to have sex with or marry the food product.

"That’s not what I meant and you actually know that’s not what I meant and you’re only using it because you have an agenda so that you could get attention for whatever reason you have,” he said.

In 2014, RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality competition of drag performers, aired a controversial episode, in which contestants were asked to identify unknown persons as “female” or “shemale” based on close-up red carpet photographs of various body parts.