Why RuPaul Matters

Ebony‘s Tracey Ross argues that the program Drag Race is an important vehicle for exploring the intersection of race, sexual orientation and gender — one not seen anywhere else on television. 

The reality show, a cross between a beauty pageant and a lip-synching competition, pays homage to the drag ball culture born out of the Harlem Renaissance and made famous by the documentary Paris is Burningwhere mostly poor Black and Latino drag performers would compete in various gender categories. True to its roots, RuPaul’s Drag Race features a racially diverse cast of gay men who poke holes in traditional gender norms with outlandish wigs, costumes, and a generous amount of makeup. While the show is meant to serve as a light-hearted competition for drag queens to showcase their talents, RuPaul and his girls have made Drag Race an important vehicle for exploring

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