Have you been watching RuPaul's Drag Race on Logo?
Yeah, yeah - Another reality show? Another lame contest? Perhaps, but for some of us, it's so much more than that.
I just returned from New Orleans, LA, after a weeklong stint at Mardi Gras. I loved the spirit of togetherness, the happy bead catching, the well-received nods to history. I especially loved all of the friendly, slightly drunk, very happy men I met (including an exceptional one or two who perhaps changed me a little as a person).
While I was standing on the balcony above Lafitte's at Bourbon and Dumaine Sts., one of those gaggles of Phelps-esque anti-gay Repent Now protestors appeared headed in the direction of the bar. They stood beneath us, shouting through megaphones about how our 'vile acts' and 'sinful ways' would keep us out of Heaven, how "no faggot can ever be good," and so on. They eventually left - perhaps because we didn't toss any beads - but the experience gave me pause.
I hadn't encountered hate like that since high school - sure, I've dealt with my parents, the area where they live, the occassional right wing nutjob at an Equality Forum/etc., but it's been some time since someone singled me out by outfit in a crowd of people and called me a faggot.
A lot of people laugh at my love of RuPaul - of her music, her videos, her performances - I've loved her since her first record, and have bought everything she releases, including that amazing one with the holographic dancing cover... But for a young kid who knew he was so different than the people around him, this man-as-fierce-woman was a beacon not just of hope for survival, but that the groundwork was there for me to climb higher and higher.
When I returned from New Orleans, after greeting my dog and shoving a pile of laundry into the "out" bin, I loaded Logo online and cued up the latest episode of RuPaul's Drag Race. During the scoring section, we learned that Ongina, the vivacious Filipino princess, won the Viva Glam campaign challenge. Upon announcement, Ongina broke down and started sobbing, telling the world how it important the Viva Glam win was for her - because she's been living life with HIV for the past two years. She reminded us that we need to keep Celebrating Life. Every day.
Writing this, I'm crying, just like I did when I first watched the revelation. Stop the hate. The title of two Ru songs? Love is love. Celebrate.
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