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Let’s Start Treating Drag Queens With Respect

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dvsross/34313783596/in/album-72157679992391734/

Drag Queens have never been more popular — thanks to a show called Rupaul’s Drag Race — and this rise in popularity has created a whole line of international celebrity queens who travel the world performing and meeting their fans. This should be a thing celebrated; the world needs to appreciate queer culture and its trailblazers more than ever, but there is one definite issue with this, and that’s the attitude of some fans.

That’s not to say all fans of Drag Race and its stars are a negative thing — I definitely consider myself a huge fan — but it’s the ones who feel entitled to invade the space and lives of their favorite queens who need to be addressed.

There’s something unique about Drag Race contestants — the show is a phenomena, but its queens still feel accessible to its fans. They’re heavily active on social media, interact with their biggest stans, like they know them, and the very nature of their performances across the world means the public can feel closer to them than they actually are. In clubs — in contrast to bands performing at clubs — there are no physical barriers between the Queens and the people watching them. They interact with you, dance with you and their meet and greets aren’t so extortionate that the average person can’t afford them, so it’s actually fairly reasonable to meet the people you admire.

But the problem comes when fans think they’re entitled to something more than they get from the people they love.

The truth is, meeting any celebrity you admire is an unequal thing just by nature. They don’t know you, and yet you feel like they might have profoundly changed your life; that can inevitably lead to disappointment, but the celebrity shouldn’t be blamed for that.

Recently, Bob The Drag Queen, the previous reigning Queen of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 9, tweeted about her interactions with fans.

This simple tweet caused a huge debate, one that seemed to be welcomed by Bob herself, about how fans should be interacting with their faves. Many people seemed angry with the tweet, suggesting that that’s exactly what they should expect. But that, to me, seems very entitled. It makes sense that if you’ve paid to meet someone that they be friendly to you — which in all my experiences meeting Ru girls they have been — but you can’t expect more from the experience than that. For some people, it might be easy to interact with strangers and seem extra excited all the time, but for some people, that’s just not in their nature (it wouldn’t be in mine) — and that should also be okay. You can’t expect more, especially if you’re just meeting them by chance on the street.

It’s not even just excited energy that some fans expect, sometimes they feel entitled to way more. It’s a well-documented thing that many fans feel like they have the right to grab Drag Queens, to pull on their wigs or to ruin their makeup or outfits, which demonstrates an astonishing lack of respect.

Queens have called this kind of behavior out before, All Stars 3 favorite Trixie Mattel tweeted recently about the issue.

It seems like a super obvious thing, but let’s just reiterate: drag queens are regular people, too, who might not want to be grabbed by a sweaty stranger.

It’s a super simple concept that some — definitely not all — don’t seem to be aware of, and it’s the idea of treating someone with respect. If you meet your favorite Queen, and they’re fun and flirty and hug you, then hug back — I’m not writing a manifesto about how people definitively ought to act around them, just suggesting people starting listening to what their faves are saying and think about their actions. This isn’t just basic decency that people should be showing, but also a chance to make the opportunity nicer for you. If you’re nice to the Drag Queen you’re meeting then, chances are, they’ll be nice back, and that’s all you should expect.

I leave you with Bob The Drag Queen’s final words on the matter in hopes that we can continue a discussion that leads to everyone feeling more comfortable.

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Written by Clara Popp

Clara is a 19 year old intersectional feminist, opinionated student and aspiring journalist. She can be reached via twitter - @clarapopp - or through email at claraepopp@hotmail.co.uk.