I moved cross-country from New York to Los Angeles in 2011 with a friend of mine and her girlfriend, who was actually Kate McKinnon from SNL. And I was living with them in our tiny apartment in Culver City, and they were so into RuPaul’s Drag Race. And slowly, over the course of the season, I went from passing through the living room to get a snack to being like, Oh, this guy Latrice Royale is the funniest person I’ve ever seen. So that’s when I fell in love with the show, and I dove in with both feet and I’ve never looked back.
This article appears in the Winter 2022 issue of Alta Journal.
Drag Race is a competitive reality show about the world of drag where a number of drag queens compete for the title of the next drag superstar. Every year, you’ll meet about 15 drag queens from across the country, sometimes other countries, who are competing in a number of contests to show off their drag skills—everything from lip-synch performances to incredible fashion challenges where they have to make insane looks.
In season finales, Ru shows each finalist a picture of themselves as children and asks them, If they could talk to their younger selves, what would they say? As a gay man and a gay writer, it is just an incredibly moving thing to watch someone revisit those years when you weren’t living as yourself and you were hiding your own truth and terrified that your secret could come out. And now you’re watching these people who are living their sexuality as loud and proud as possible, having climbed that mountain, but looking back at where they came from.
For me, the most meaningful thing is seeing this gay-subculture art form being appreciated by the masses. You saw it and you loved it at the club that you went to, but then you’re talking to a woman at the bank who has three children and goes to church every Sunday, and she’s a fan of Drag Race. There’s something so amazing about that, that it’s broken through and touched that many people.•
—As told to Robert Ito
RuPaul’s Drag Race streams on Hulu.