For years RuPaul's Drag Race has had deep-seated issues within its supposed fandom. Viers of the show have criticized, ridiculed, and otherwise abused the show's stars, the worst has been consistently reserved for Black contestants. Black performers have had their social media accounts hacked with racist epithets posted, and they've been threatened with murder. This hasn't just been aimed at the contestants, but judges as well. The attacks have pushed some to withdraw from public life and for the most part, the show itself has done nothing. Now, Drag Race has released a public service announcement featuring a few of the show's Black contestants.
"What's up y'all," Widow Von'Du says at the beginning of the video, out of drag. "I'm Ray."
The clip is an attempt at humanizing the performers we have come to know and love by showing the people behind the drag. Von'Du, Heidi N Closet, Latrice Royale, The Vixen, Mariah Paris Balenciaga, and Mayhem Miller, become Ray, Trevien, Tim, Tony, Elijah, and Dequan. They are husbands, friends, uncles, and "favorite aunties" of our community, in addition to being the high-glam stage performers we've come to know and love.
"I'm a hairstylist by trade," Balenciaga says. "I enjoy spending so much time with my friends."
"I am someone that has experienced racism and injustices from a very young age first-hand," Closet says. "And even though I've endured those things, i still try to look at the positives and look at the good in people and in the world as a whole."
The group say explicitly that they are re-introducing themselves to remind fans that there are humans underneath the makeup and "eleganza."
"We need to collectively stop the threats, stop the racism that is effecting this community," Von Du says. They go on to ask followers to make a pledge to spread "joy and kindness to all of us," reminding all that "words have power."
The video is a marked change from the show which has shied away from overt condemnations in the past. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer Drag Race began to come out against the cyberbullying queens have long been subjected to, sometimes posting on their social media channels in lieu of live-tweeting episodes as they aired.