RuPaul’s Drag Race tackles anti-drag legislation in latest episode

Tonight’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15, which just aired on MTV, tackles the current wave of US state level anti-LGBTQ+ legislation—specifically bans on drag—in true Drag Race style, with the fabulous 1980s Rusical, Wigloose! The high energy parody musical, with some poignant moments, is set in the small town of West Bumtuck where drag is outlawed. “Imagine that”, Ru says pointedly as he announces this week’s timely maxi challenge.

Loosey LaDuca plays Heaven Bacon in Wigloose: The Rusical! in RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 episode 12. Courtesy of MTV/World of Wonder.

With the first ten episodes of Drag Race season 15 reduced to a 45-minute format on MTV, thankfully Drag Race is back to its full 90 minutes in time to deal with this important issue, with queer country singer Orville Peck on guest judging duties. The six remaining contestants performing in the Rusical are Anetra, Loosey LaDuca, Luxx Noir London, Mistress Isabelle Brooks, Salina EsTitties, and Sasha Colby.

Mama Ru on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15. Courtesy of MTV/World of Wonder.

“In a world where people focus on our differences, never underestimate the power of song and dance to bring us together”, Mama Ru declares as she details this week’s Rusical challenge, which features regressive town leaders and an underground resistance celebrating the joy and power of drag.

Salina EsTitties, Luxx Noir London, and Loosey LaDuca in Wigloose: The Rusical! in RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 episode 12. Courtesy of MTV/World of Wonder.

There were some moving moments as Ru did his Werk Room walk through, including a conversation with one of this season’s frontrunners, Sasha Colby. She opened up to Ru about her mother’s reaction when she came out to her as trans, recalling that she was “so resolute to let her kid go”, telling her daughter “I just know that you’re not going to be in heaven with us”. Sasha Colby recalled the “closed mindset” of the church she grew up in, where “they were saying that my sin was worse than other people’s sin”.

Anetra as Mama Bacon in Wigloose: The Rusical! in RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 episode 12. Courtesy of MTV/World of Wonder.

As Everything Everywhere All At Once filmmaker Daniel Scheinert put it when collecting his Best Director Oscar at Sunday night’s Academy Awards, alongside co-director Daniel Kwan, “drag…is a threat to nobody”. In fact, it can be life-saving, as Anetra discusses with RuPaul, telling him about attending her first DragCon in “baby drag”. “I was still living as a closeted everything”, shares Anetra, “I lost my whole family, I had no job, I had nowhere to live, and I remember walking in and feeling so normal and feeling so in place. I was feeling so accepted. You could literally feel the love there. After a weekend of all of that love and excitement, I didn’t feel like going back to a closeted and confined space. So for me, drag did save my life. Drag was everything that I had when I had nothing.” Later in the episode Anetra adds, “with everything presently going on in the world, it feels like we’re taking a giant step back”.

Mistress Isabelle Brooks on the main stage in RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 episode 12. Courtesy of MTV/World of Wonder.

As the queens prepared to take to the stage, Mistress told Sasha about the drag shows that she performs in at her “home bar”, Hamburger Mary’s in Houston, Texas. “We have kids all the time, it is family-friendly. Of course we have restrictions in place where they can’t come to the Saturday night shows when it gets a little rowdy”. Commenting on the anti-drag rhetoric and legislation, Mistress adds, “I think they have crazy thoughts of what drag is. It’s very scary at times.”

Sadly the plot of Wigloose isn’t a far-fetched fantasy, as Sasha remarks, “the state of the world that we live in is so wild. Now they want to outlaw drag and they feel entitled to hurt you. It’s such a hard place to be, because you really want to be yourself, you really want to celebrate who you are, but sometimes you have to be forced to be quiet for pure safety”.

Loosey LaDuca on the main stage in RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 episode 12. Courtesy of MTV/World of Wonder.

Talking about her experience with Drag Story Hour, Connecticut’s Loosey LaDuca says: “There’s always a lot of community backlash. The whole thing is, ‘we don’t want our kids exposed to this because drag queens are going to be a bad influence on them’. Then you have people protesting at Drag Queen Story Hours and being extremely violent, but someone dressed as a princess telling a story about a mermaid is offensive to them?! People in the LGBT+ community are constantly being targeted with hate to divert from bigger issues.”

Anetra in her runway look on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 episode 12. Courtesy of MTV/World of Wonder.

Luxx Noir London shares her solution: “I think that queer people going out into the world and showing resilience and just saying we can’t be F***d with the way that you all think we can, that’s going to be the driving force for a change”. While the queens go on to discuss their experience of growing up in a heteronormative society, where adults readily joke with young kids about whether they have boyfriends or girlfriends. “People don’t realize what they’re doing to their own children by doing that, they’re putting them in a box already”, says Anetra.

“The conservatives always think that we’re trying to push our agenda on them when they’re the ones pushing their agendas on us”, observes Sasha Colby. “They’re like, ‘you’re grooming our children to be gay, when that’s your technique.”

Watch Act 1 of Season 15 Episode 12 👯‍♀️ | RuPaul’s Drag Race

On March 8th, RuPaul shared a video with his 4.4 million on Instagram followers, which has so far been seen 3.5 million times on the social media platform addressing anti-LGBTQ legislation. “Hey, look over there! A classic distraction technique, distracting us away from the real issues that they were voted into office to focus on: jobs; health care; keeping our children safe from harm at their own school. But we know that bullies are incompetent at solving real issues. They look for easy targets so they can give the impression of being effective. They think our love, our light, our laughter, and our joy are signs of weakness, but they’re wrong, because that is our strength. Drag queens are the Marines of the queer movement. Don’t get it twisted and don’t be distracted, register to vote so we can get these stunt queens out of office and 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”,

In response to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and censorship against drag performers, World of Wonder has created the Drag Defense Fund with a donation from MTV and RuPaul’s Drag Race. The fund supports the ACLU—which is currently tracking 425 anti-LGBTQ bills in the US—in its work to defend and ensure LGBTQ+ rights. 

By James Kleinmann

RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 episode 12 – Wigloose: The Rusical! – premiered on MTV on Friday, March 17th, 2023 on MTV. New episodes of Drag Race air on MTV Fridays at 8pm ET/PT, 7pm CT.

RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 airs on MTV Fridays at 8pm ET/PT.

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