Life lessons from Ru Paul’s Drag Race

Ru Paul’s Drag Race, the show where contestants create and quip and squabble and lip-sync, vying to be the season’s ruling Drag Queen.

These Queens are quick and acerbic, witty and insightful. There are a range of different personalities and talents in each season, from comediennes and models to actresses and impersonators.

“Aren’t these just dudes dressing up as women?” you may ask. The answer is a resounding “HELL NO” accompanied by a sharp slap across the chops. The contestants work hard to stay in the competition; we see them create and collaborate, rehearse and improvise, barely breaking a sweat while they’re at it. Gone are the days where this lifestyle and occupation was hidden, suppressed and underground – Ru Paul’s Drag Race puts it all out there in glorious Technicolor.

Season 6 was the pinnacle of my Drag Race viewing, and I was solidly rooting for the magnificent Bianca Del Rio from beginning to end. With her sharp tongue and amazing fashion creations, what’s not to love. I snorted with laughter and almost spilled my drink on at least one occasion thanks to her feisty one-liners. She has a hard-core work ethic, but more than that, she takes care of her fellow contestants (when not roasting them, of course). She acted as a guide and mentor to one of the more inexperienced Queens during a challenge (the beautiful Trinity K Bonet), which served as a reminder that you don’t have to be ruthless and bitchy to stay at the top of your game.

Lessons I took from Ru Paul’s Drag Race:

  1. The LGBT community is a fabulous, amazing thing to be part of. Okay, I already knew that, but lack of visibility can be frustrating and I love seeing different LGBT lives and personalities on screen as a reminder of how unique and diverse we are. Drag Race shows a multi-dimensional view of Queens that can encourage and inspire younger LGBT viewers.
  2. Being creative is essential, whatever you do in life. Whichever challenge the contestants in Drag Race are engaged in, they have to get creative. Creating dresses from trash, interpreting and performing a scene, dancing and lip-syncing for their lives; these are just a few of the things they have to do to keep their place in the contest. In our everyday lives, creativity is equally important. We may not have to sashay along a runway, but only when we think creatively can we solve problems and create meaningful changes in our home and working lives.
  3. Collaboration and support is just as important as ambition. Contestants in Drag Race will soon get taken down a notch if they think they can snub their peers and go it alone. Working as part of a team is more likely to lead to success, without burning bridges along the way.
  4. Visibility is important. One contestant from Drag Race came out as Trans on the show, a brave move which can’t have been the easiest thing to do. Many more contestants are gay, some of whom have had difficult times with their families and communities because of this. A few contestants have openly stated that they are HIV positive, despite the stigma still surrounding the disease. Their courage in sharing their stories undoubtedly makes it that bit easier for younger viewers growing up LGBT to do the same, and serves as a reminder to people like myself that being out and visible is one of the best things we can do at work and in the community to normalise LGBT lives.
  5. Being receptive to constructive criticism and adaptable in different situations will help you progress further. “I’m not the type to make excuses…” THEN DON’T, GIRL. If you are challenged on your performance, don’t start making excuses or shifting the blame. Take ownership, take on board any advice offered, and strive to do better. Be adaptable, be open to new experiences, and always up your game.
  6. If you can’t love yourself, how the HELL you gonna love somebody else? I adore this catchphrase of Ru Paul’s. Embrace who you are and love yourself, no matter who you are or where you’re from. Makes me want to stand on my rooftop swinging a rainbow flag, singing “I am who I am” at the top of my lungs…
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