How Generation Z Is Making Drag Mainstream
On the weekend of September 28th, more than 40,000 people flooded into the New York City Javits Center for the 3rd annual Rupaul’s DragCon. But what made this year truly special was a new phenomenon which swept over the pink carpeted convention: the majority of the attendees were children.
Yes, the years of drag queens being restricted to small thirty seat bars in Provincetown seem to be behind us. Now, drag queens are being televised on the hit reality TV show, Rupaul’s Drag Race and kids seem to make up the bulk of the viewership.
On the show, fourteen drag queens compete in acting, comedy, lip-sync, and costume-making challenges in their bid for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar. The show began its first season on the Logo channel as a poorly edited and heavily filtered program with a target audience of purely homosexual men. However, the show has taken off since then, with more than 126 queens featured over ten seasons and three allstar seasons–where fan favorites return for a second chance–of programming. With the recent season receiving a viewership of almost 723,000, there is no doubt that drag is becoming mainstream.
In addition to the TV show, drag queens are now easily accessible to the public via social media platforms. A hit extension of Cosmopolitan’s Snapchat is entitled Cosmo Queens where every few weeks a new queen shares a tutorial of an iconic drag makeup look of their own, often inspired by looks they did for the show. Past season 6 winner, Bianca del Rio, shares her touring life as a drag comedian to her 1.3 million Instagram followers. And just last year, Trixie Mattel (season 7 and winner of Allstars 3) and Katya Zamolodchikova (season 7 and Allstars 2), took their Youtube series, UNHhhh to Viceland and renamed it the Trixie and Katya show with episodes airing each week.
But children aren’t just in love with the queens from Rupaul’s show, they are now falling in love with the art ofdrag.
Child dragstar, Desmond, aged ten, is at the forefront of the movement for kids not only to watch Drag Race from their devices, but actually participate in the culture. Last year at DragCon NYC, Desmond was pulled from the crowd by Rupaul himself after the drag icon took notice of the then nine-year-old in a tulle covered hot pink dress with an intricate headpiece. This year, Desmond was a “featured guest talent” and hosted a Kids Fashion Walk on the Runway for children much like himself to show off their talents and jaw-dropping looks.
“People should be able to dance, sing, or dress in any way. You can express yourself however you want. It doesn’t matter if you like jazz or rap, ballet or ballroom, dresses or suits. You can just do you. I like Diana Ross. Maybe you do too.”- Desmond
In 2018, we should embrace these new drag kids with open arms. Raising a generation of children who are allowed to experience a full range of gender expression can only lead to more tolerant and accepting adults.
Drag in its purest form is a way to break loose from norms and just have fun. To assume that children wouldn’t be drawn to it, is now an antiquated belief.
To quote Rupaul, “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.”