These RuPaul’s Drag Race queens were abused in a vile homophobic attack
When RuPaul's Drag Race first hit TV screens back in 2009, it was a groundbreaking celebration of all things queer. Yet, although the show is now a cornerstone of reality TV, things weren't always like this.
Years ago, drag queens exactly like the ones on the show were regularly subject to prejudice and discrimination. Bigotry was rife and men who dressed as women were often publically humiliated, harassed, fired, jailed and even institutionalised.
With this in mind, RuPaul's Drag Race was the show that revolutionised drag by bringing it to the masses, breaking down social barriers at every twist and turn. Nowadays, drag is not only accepted but respected by millions of people.
In 2017, ninth season contestant Charlie Hides claimed that the TV series shows drag queens as "fully formed, three-dimensional people with feelings and souls" stating: "We've been humanised and that's important, that we're seen as more than just a dancing freak. We're actual people."
Knowing this makes the incident that occurred in Newcastle recently even sadder. On Tuesday, April 3, 2018, two RuPaul's Drag Race contestants were subject to homophobic abuse by two strangers in a kebab shop. When season nine queens Shea Coulee and Farrah Moan were approached by two young women, the encounter spiralled into a heated argument, which climaxed in the TV stars being told they were “faggots,” “sluts” and "walking STDs". But as you might expect, in true Drag Race style, the pair didn't take it lying down.
According to Coulee's recount of events, the situation started with the two girls asking if the drag queens - who were not dressed as women at the time - were American. When the pair replied that they were, they were allegedly told that their accents were "s***" and the situation quickly escalated with the two women beginning to shout homophobic and offensive slurs.
But the two strangers clearly didn't know what they had got themselves into. In typical drag queen fashion, Moan and Coulee responded with some cut-throat comebacks, with the former telling the abusers that they were “greasy,” before saying: “We’re touring the world being gay. What are you doing? You’re living in Newcastle with your crusty-ass eyelashes." In addition, Moan asked the girls - who shared the encounter on Snapchat - why they were “so greasy,” to which one replied: “Why are you so gay?” The queen responded: “Because I’m a motherf**king star.”
In a video posted on YouTube, Shea told the crowd at one live show that they had received some assistance from a fan named Steph who stepped in to protect them from the “hateful and basic” girls. Steph allegedly defended the queens from the hateful language before asking "do you want to go?" and "throat-punching" one of the girls.
But despite an overwhelmingly positive online reaction to the drag queen's behaviour in the video, Moan later admitted on social media that she wasn't necessarily proud of the way she had responded. On Twitter, she wrote: “so I didnt wanna bring attention to the negativity that happened to me and shea last night in Newcastle at a kebab shop but the vid is spreading. No need to apologise on behalf of the city- our show was amazing and theres homophobic tw**s all over the world. Love you guys! I didn’t maintain my classiness to well in the video… I was drunk as hell and some lil girl came up to Shea and I with her phone calling us faggots, walking stds cuz my hair was pink and I guess she was white girl wasted".
Perhaps even more disturbing than the incident itself is the piece of information that Moan revealed while discussing the incident on Twitter, claiming that she received "thousands of death threats" after appearing on RuPaul's Drag Race. Unfortunately, her story is not rare, with many other queens from other seasons experiencing similar treatment.
The incident, along with endless others, shows that although RuPaul and his contestants on the outlandish hit show have made far-reaching changes in the way drag queens are perceived, there is still a long way to go before drag queens - as well as transgender people, homosexual people and others - are free of discrimination.
Of course, looking back in history the United States has a poor track record when it comes to drag queens. In Columbus, Ohio, an 1848 law forbade a person from appearing in public “in a dress not belonging to his or her sex" and in the decades that followed, more than 40 U.S. cities created similar laws limiting the clothing people were allowed to wear in public. In fact, until as recently as 20011, a man who dressed in clothing designed for women could technically be arrested in New York for “impersonating a female”, this being the shameful remnants of the 19th-century statewide law.
So, what does the future hold for these performers? Although in an ideal world we would already be there, we all look forward to the day when discrimination like this no longer exists. After all, people doing drag need to be acknowledged loudly and proudly for exactly what they are: queens.