RuPaul Called Number-One Defender Of Free Speech And Language

JRupaulAs an artist, I love language, and I cherish free speech. RuPaul has been the number-one defender of these, and at the same time he continues to support every shade of queerness within our community, no matter the class. Drag is punk and should never be subjected to politically correct ideals. The moment it stops provoking is the moment it fails as an art form. Trans people are forever indebted to drag for the mainstream explosion of gender as we see it today.”

The brilliantly-talented entertainer Our Lady J writing about the danger of overpolicing language for Huffington Post in response to the controversy over RuPaul’s Drag Race

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  • Thedrdonna

    I think there’s a fundamental difference between “art as subversion” and “art that perpetuates hateful words”. I don’t think people would be defending the show quite as vociferously if it was using racial slurs or language that denigrates people with disabilities, and certainly not hand-waving it away as being “punk” or whatever your own personal descriptor for edginess is. Subversion tugs at the supports of those who are in power, there’s nothing subversive about shitting on the downtrodden.

  • Cam

    Maybe Drag used to be punk, back when it was unheard of, underground, dangerous, people actually sang.
    But it’s on TV, it’s lip syncing.
    She is just recycling the same old line that failed in the 80?s of “Well gee, black people can’t be rac-ist” that people would use if somebody like Spike Lee said something stupid.
    It didn’t work then and doesn’t now.

  • tonyg319

    What I don’t understand is how the trans community is just not getting upset. She has been using the term “she-mail” for the past 6 seasons. Why is it this year it’s not ok but in the past it was? And Ru has always been accepting of all. She has had more than one trans competitors on the show. I feel the LGBT community has a tendency to be too sensitive. I understand the point but it’s all about intent. I have never been offended by random words. It’s words that are said with intent of hurting me or others that I react to. And to say that drag used to be punk is a little ridiculous. Drag queens are the ones who helped start our fight for equality to begin with! That seems pretty punk to me! Yes the form of drag has changed over the years but it’s purpose is still the same… to challenge the norm and to entertain!

  • sweetbrandigirl2004

    The LGBT movement has moved way beyond what it was in the old days when gender roles needed to be challenged. Today it is a huge progressive moment and as such is gaining more political acceptance daily. The days of drag queens being as outlandish as possible in order to drawn attention o themselves and their message are gone ! We have new messengers today and new forums to get our message out and to create change. Likeiwise Rupaul has a National platform and therefore has the responsiblity of being politically correct with what he says and what he does, he’s not preforming in some dark club on some lonely back street where the effects of his actions won’t hurt the cause or member of our own community. Lastly Transsexuals aren’t indebted to Rupaul for anything for there were transsexuals long before the gay movement ever came into existence. People have been transitioning and living in the opposite gender for over a hundred years. As a lesbian I support drag just like I support Transsexuals but Ru has got to realize that times have changed and he has to change with them.

  • Cam


    Of course transgenders owe Ru, the fact that they existed before isn’t the story, it’s the fact that Ru could have diss-alowed them from a drag competition but instead embraced them.

    That fact that somebody merely exists doesn’t mean that they should never acknowledge when somebody else has done something helpful. What an odd attitude.

  • nightside23

    Everybody in general is overly sensitive to words, whether they are spoken in hate or if people are trying to desensitize them. If people actually have a problems with specific words, it’s their own personal issues they need to deal with concerning that word(s), not force others to not use them. People cant be the hypocrites they are now and say they should be allowed to say/do/act how they want while condemning others for doing the same. pot and kettle anybody; because right now, the LGBT community is becoming what they hate/dislike the most: over sensitized whiners, just like religious nut bags that hate them so much.

  • sweetbrandigirl2004

    @Cam: @ Cam the fact that Transsexuals existed long before drag is an important fact, likewise I highly doubt Ru would want to disallow as you put it tradespeople from competing….. How do you think that would have went over nationally not very good I can assure you. Ru has done plenty for drag queens and drag in general to bring it into the public forefront but that doesn’t necessarily means he done all that much for trans people or that they owe him sone kind of debt… they don’t

  • Icebloo

    RuPaul will certainly defend you…unless you are white !

  • DarkZephyr

    @sweetbrandigirl2004: Its kind of lame when you pounce on a typo. Just make your argument if you want to and do your best to make it a good one. Don’t pounce on mistakes. That’s an ugly thing to do.

  • HirsuteOne


    A lot of people are saying asking “why now?” IMO, it’s because the recent episode had a game of guess the “she-male”. The queens had to pick out which pic of a close up body was a bio female or a she-male. Using the term “she-mail” for the messages from Ru was a pun. Making trans people the punchline of a joke with the term “she-male” went to far.

    I’m not the arbiter of what is or is not offensive. However, we are, and always will be family, so if our trans brothers and sisters were hurt by the unintentional use of slang, then we should make amends and change. That’s exactly what Logo did.

  • tonyg319

    @HirsuteOne: I understand your point and I get how it offended Trans people. I just feel like @niteside23 we all as a community tend to take things like this to far. Words are always going to be said. We can’t get offended at everything. Because we become “whiners” which don’t help the cause but only hinders it more. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, I feel for the Trans community because they do get the short end of the stick a lot and left behind in the fight. I just don’t think it helps to nit pick every non intentional insult…

  • HirsuteOne


    I agree, but I also see the brunt of the BS the trans community gets in general, so I’m willing to cut some slack.

  • Persa

    Anyone who interpreted that game or the “She Mail” alert as being about trans women is being willifully intelectually obtuse.
    In the context of a show about DRAG and Gender Illusion, “She Male or Female” is obviously about drag queens and their ability to authentically serve female realness. It has literally nothing to do with being a trans woman in any way.

    There are no trans women or cis gendered bio women competing on Ru Paul’s Drag Race

    Policing drag culutre merely because trans women exist (and taking everything about drag culture out of context to do it) is just lazy ire and drag is just an easy target.

    Language is complicated. The word catfish is used to mean a fish and to mean tricking someone into believing you are someone you are not online in order to date them.

    You know how folks are using the word catfish but the context in which they are using it. That is the beauty of language.

    And since when to trans women get to tell drag queens how to talk about EACH OTHER? It’s one thing for trans women to clearly defined how they wish to be refered to, it is a completely other thing for people outside the community of drag to try to tell being who live and breathe drag culture what the can and can’t do and how they can and can’t refer to themselves.

    If trans women don’t want to be associated with drag culture then maybe they should not involve themselves with how drag culture manifests.

    Drag is a performance of gender expression for a variety of artistic reasons that involves verious and sundry manifestations of cross dressing.

    Being trans is not a performance. THAT is the difference. Or, at least, that is what I have always been told.

    Ru Paul’s Drag Race is not about trans women it’s about drag queens. Specifically and distinctly. Fish, Lady Boy , She Mail, She Mail in the context of drag is about the peformance of gender, not transexuality. It is a competition about gender illusion and performance. If a contestant at some point later on transitions, that is their personal business but it’s not what Drag Race is about.

    If you are not part of drag culture you don’t have to participate, you don’t have to watch it and you don’t have to talk about it. But you certainly shouldn’t get to tell drag queens how to do what they do.

    It seems to me that trans folks need to focus more on building and strengthening their own community and civil rights movement instead of spending so much time policing other groups and telling other people how to talk about themselves, their bodies, their identity.

    Being allies does not mean you have to be exactly the same or have the exact same point of view but it does mean that you have to respect the places where you diverge, the meaningful differences that matter in everyone’s livesd experience of their own life.

    I cannot imagine an context in which someone would honestly believe that Ru Paul is not respectful of trans experiences but his show is about Drag, not being trans and it’s disingenuous for people to pretend they don’t know that or don;t know the different just to make a political point or start some kind of social media blogger war.

    Yes, language is important and the words we choose matter but CONTEXT is key to comprehension when it comes to cross-cultural understanding.

  • Cam


    First of all, in your first post you called them “Transsexuals” a big no no. Should you get piled on?

    Second. Actually Ru could have disallowed Transsexuals easily on the show and frankly nobody would have known. Ru didn’t.

    You have this weird obsession of “NOBODY OWES ANYBODY ANYTHING WHO DID SOMETHING NICE!!” As I’ve said before, your attitude is weird and embraces the worst stereotypes.

  • Cam


    What a well thought out comment, very interesting!

  • Desert Boy

    Time to erase the “T” from “LGBT”.

  • Jaxxon

    @Desert Boy:


    My own frustration with certain “trans activist” attitudes has caused me to feel the same sentiment recently. I’ll be branded “transphobic” any minute now.

  • jar

    @sweetbrandigirl2004: Thanks for expressing so clearly the creeping conservatism that plagues our community. The same people who moan about putting on an acceptable presentation are the same people who were too cowardly to come out when the risks were much greater. Now that it is safe for them, they want to dictate how other people should live their lives (which is always in accordance with conservative values).
    One of the tenets of the gay rights movement has always been to create the freedom for people to express themselves and live their lives as they see fit, without fear of the law or social oppression. But now the conservative forces want to marginalize the drag queens, leather crowd, etc. because they “give a bad impression.”

    Great comment, Persa.

  • HirsuteOne


    I’ll pass on some of the more disgusting comments in this post and others that I’ve seen elsewhere. Your comment perfectly states the opposite viewpoint in this debate. I’m not a trans person, and I assume you are not either. This issue is not about you or me. It’s also not about curtailing the hilarious use of funny puns, like “you’ve got she-mail”.

    It is about our trans brothers and sisters, the T in our LGBT family, and some of them who were hurt by the unintentional use of a slang word. They voiced their opinion and asked for respect and change. If we want the world outside of the LGBT community to accept and respect us, we should start by setting the example within our own community. Our trans family members deserve our respect and acceptance, not ridicule and oppression.

  • tazz602

    I am very torn on this, I’ve heard the people on both sides and sometimes I do think the Trans community can be a bit over-sensitive (queue the flames) but my partner had a different take on it.

    This is a TV show – not a show in a gay club for a gay audience. It is a TV show that appeals to and is watched by people of all sexual and gender orientations. It’s goal is to make money for the network, not educate. (Even though it has educated a lot of people and exposed an often denigrated part of the GLBT culture)

    As a TV show for the masses it does have a responsibility to not use words or terms that might be misinterpreted or abused by those watching. Just like a show on BET could not use the N word even though it may be between two African Americans.

    One could argue that they have used the term for six years, but if you go back 6-10 years you will see movies use the term “fag” and no one said anything then, no one.

    I do feel there was no intent to harm or denigrate anyone and I feel for Ru since she has been a fierce advocate for the drag and trans community.

  • HirsuteOne

    We’re debating the use of the trans slur “She m ale”, a word that is banned by the QUEERTY comment system. Ironic, no?

  • inbama

    Yep. If a website with the journalistic integrity of Queerty bans a word, no drag queen should ever use it.

  • NCSilverBear

    Gay is not bi is not lesbian is not trans is not drag is not cross dressing is not gender disordered. While we might all fly the Rainbow Flag, we are distinctly different and unique. Diversity has it’s merits. Those who do not comprehend what makes us different, those who would try to make us all alike, do not understand where we have come from, where we have been, the battles we have fought to be and to live who we are. RuPaul seems to be someone who knows what it is to be who and what he is, whether in drag or out of drag. If we all could be as real, stop pointing fingers, we might have a better time of it.

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