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‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Producers Respond to Anti-Drag Bills: ‘It Feels Un-American’



Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the Emmy-winning producers behind “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and co-founders of World of Wonder, have responded to the wave of anti-drag legislation being introduced by GOP lawmakers, calling it “un-American.”

Speaking with Variety over Zoom, Barbato said the bills — which are working their way through at least 11 state legislatures and threatening to restrict or prohibit drag show performances — are all part of an “insidious” campaign.

“It’s been going on and it’s orchestrated by a minority,” Barbato said. “They have been successful in these hideous laws. That same minority is threatening the civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community. They are a threat and we must take them seriously.”

In response to attempts from conservative legislators around the country to ban children from drag performances, bar drag shows from occurring in public places and brand them as adult-oriented businesses, World of Wonder partnered with the ACLU to set up the Drag Defense Fund. The fund allows people to donate to and support the ACLU’s fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

Bailey said, “Donating to the ACLU is important because these battles need to be fought, in addition to social media, in the courts, which is where the laws can be repealed — or even better, not passed in the first place.”

Bailey also responded to efforts to spread the narrative that drag queens are predators. “The notion that drag queens are groomers is false,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s an attempt to turn the clock back to some imaginary time when drag queens did not exist, which is never, and therefore render invisible certain people. By trying to do that, it will fail because any attempt to turn the clock back has always failed and can only fail.”


However, Bailey pointed out that the hate is all part of a larger movement. “It is against trans people. It’s also against books. It has been bubbling under for years,” he said. “We may think that Trump is no longer in office, but the wave he rode is part of this continuing wave, which is this fear of the future.”

As the LGBTQ+ community and its allies come together to fight against discriminatory anti-drag bills, Barbato and Bailey also encourage supporting local drag queens by tipping them and bringing allies to local drag bars to discover the talent.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which has won 26 primetime Emmys, is also “a political statement,” Bailey noted. Since its first air date in 2009, the show has brought drag culture into the mainstream and has celebrated the art form. “It celebrates individuality, self-expression and the joy that is associated with that,” Bailey said, “But there are people who want to crush, oppress, silence or erase entire aspects of the population. That doesn’t feel very American. It feels un-American.”

While RuPaul Charles may not be marching on Washington as he did in the early ’90s for LGBTQ+ rights, his weekly appearance on the MTV show “is his politics,” Barbato said.

RuPaul is one of many Drag Queens to speak out on the bills. He stressed the importance of voting, calling the Republican lawmakers “stunt queens.” He said, “Register to vote…put some smart people with real solutions into government. And by the way, a social media post has never been as powerful as a registered vote.”

Both Bailey and Barbato also encourage people to vote. “We’ve been pushing people to the voting booth. We ended episodes with the Queens and with signs reminding people to register to vote,” Barbato said. “It is the No. 1 thing that we all need to remember to do. There are more of us than there are of them.”


Source: Variety

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