Drag 101 Pt.3 – Celebrating Drag

Gif via Giphy

For a lot of people today, RuPaul’s game-changing show was their initiation into the drag world.

But as pride month wraps up (which it never should, honestly), we’re here to talk about another show today that has made quite a mark in popular media – it’s revolutionary and a shining ray of hope for mainstream media catering to the LGBTQIA community. 

Image via FX

Drag culture, as you may or may not know, has been around for way longer than you think.

It wasn’t exactly how we see it as today, but in essence the message remains the same and applies to everyone: 

Be true to you, express yourself however the hell you want.

More often than not, drag is misunderstood for excessively extravagant fashion. Slap on some sass in your personality and behold, a drag king/queen.

There might be some truth to this viewpoint but that doesn’t even touch the surface.   

You surely must have read through parts 1 and 2 of the Drag 101 mini-series, where part 1 gave a detailed history of ball culture and how people were cross-dressing for theatrical purposes.

One takeaway from the (very well-researched) timeline is that it wasn’t until the late 1800s when the focus shifted from putting on stage performances to being all about expressing oneself openly in order to challenge heteronormative mindsets.

The show we’re talking about does the latter.

It brings to light so many relevant issues that stem from homophobia and the stigma around HIV, AIDS, and mental illnesses affecting the queer community against the background of the New York underground ball culture scene. 

Although it hasn’t been around for as long as RuPaul’s drag race franchise, the ongoing 2018 Netflix show Pose gives us an opportunity to explore the lives of vibrant and talented people struggling to make it amidst the chaos of New York in the 80’s.

To some viewers, it’s like stepping into a whole new world that existed all this time but wasn’t ever spoken of and to others, it’s a show that gives the BIPOC / LGBTQIA community their well-deserved spotlight on screen.

Images via JoJo Whilden / FX
Images via JoJo Whilden / FX

As you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering why Pose is being focused upon in this piece, what’s the connection? 

From the get-go, Pose is a celebration.

A sensational, fashionable, retro-themed celebration of the highs and the lows of those in the drag world – viewers finally get to have a good look at what’s literally behind the curtain: human beings.

It’s not surprising that most people found that the show felt familial, relatable, inclusive and that it awakened within them a sense of comfort and/or allyship.

This effect on the audiences really brings home the point of drag culture, it’s all about acknowledging anybody and everybody, and it’s about making one feel as comfortable and confident as possible in their own skin, no matter how they wish to present themselves.

Even today, queer individuals find themselves struggling with homophobia and stigma against mental illnesses caused by that rejection and dismissal – frankly it’s tiring at this point how a majority of people still refuse to openly address these glaring problems.

Through empowering drag performances and deep, well-rounded characters, the TV show sheds a much stronger light on these issues more than any other show has ever done. The cast of the show is as inclusive as one could hope to be (Billy Porter as MC Pray Tell was a welcome addition), it is one of the most diverse casts of all time seen on screen.

Why Pose?

It brings forth a new view through well-produced storytelling, it re-creates a powerful momentum that has been building up since the past couple centuries by openly challenging the “default” way to be. 

In season 2, we see our NY ballroom members join the protest against HIV / AIDS stigma
Image by FX

To wrap up, to those out there who are unsure: there is hope, there are reasons to celebrate yourself, and there’s definitely a welcoming community where you may find your chosen family. 

If you’re looking for ways to educate or re-educate yourself in the spirit of pride month and want to enjoy a diverse cast creating magic in the ballroom world on screen, then Pose is the way to go.

“How lucky are we? We create ourselves.” – Lulu

Article written by Avantika (Avi) Mishra 

Sources:

www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-reviews/pose-season-2-review-845765/

https://variety.com/2018/tv/reviews/pose-fx-review-ryan-murphy-1202824492/

https://themontclarion.org/entertainment/pose-a-once-invisible-community-poses-to-the-forefront-of-television/

“love always wins. love has no gender. love is love. i am born this way. i am who i am”
Happy Pride Month

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