Ru Paul Charles, the drag queen: How personal pain became a public celebration
When we consider how thoroughly progressive ideology has influenced the public atmosphere, or what Taylor calls the social imaginary, we find that personal stories can quickly lead to accepted public dogma. I myself was deeply moved as I watched a video describing the famous founder of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The headline of the video reads “If you can’t fit in, watch this.” The scene opens with a photo of a cute little African American boy as we hear RuPaul describe how he never fit in and felt like a freak. “I always felt like the little boy who fell to earth… Even in family reunions, I stuck out. My parents’ divorce was really traumatic. I sort of had to leave my body to deal with what was going on… To disconnect, to detach from my emotions and my feelings.” Apparently, the violence and rage were extreme. One time, his mother poured gasoline all over the father’s car. The kids watched as the fire trucks rolled up. When the parents finally split up, RuPaul waited for days for his father to return. He never did. In the weeks and months to follow, RuPaul realized his mother was despondent but that he could lift her spirits by putting on shows, doing impersonations and making jokes.
One day he saw David Bowie on television and something clicked. “Children have difficulty articulating what they are feeling so they gravitate toward pop stars and go, ‘That’s it! That’s it right there! What I’m feeling!’” He realized he wasn’t dressing up only for his mother, but because it was the only thing that made him happy. At another time, he watched the Rocky Horror Picture Show which taught him the freedom of not taking life too seriously. And he realized he did not have to be like everyone else. “My big break was unlocking my mind’s own limitations, [that is,] I had to do it one way.” Since the early days of drag performances, his popularity has soared and he has learned that, “The key to happiness on this planet is being of service to other people.” His combination beauty pageant/game show is now in its 13th season and boasts a world-wide audience. He is most proud of the kids who watch the show. He wants them to know “that the only failure is not being true to yourself.” With tears in his eyes, he counsels, “no matter who you are or how you feel, there is a place for you in this world… Continue to love yourself because that’s where your power is, right there.”
Having suffered greatly as a child, RuPaul had come to believe he had a calling, a ministry if you will, to others who don’t feel they belong. I am also reminded of another man, a Baptist minister, who also cares about people. He was arrested as he protested the Drag Queen Story Hour at his local library. He had joined 100 parents who decried the public funding of sexual indoctrination. I have seen videos of these events and join the pastor’s anger. How can we allow grown men to tell stories to little children while flaunting a bizarre hyperbolic sexuality? Teaching them how to twerk?! My first reaction was a fantasy of my fist as it breaks the queen's nose. But, man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God (James 1:20). So, then, what? What are we to think? Could it be that this man, along with the pastor, also really cared about children? Did he simply believe he was loving kids by preaching a message of acceptance, tolerance? How do we respond to drag queens who do not know they are corrupting children -- actions which cannot be tolerated?