The Art of Loving Yourself — Lessons Drag Taught Me

Last weekend, my favorite TV show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ won the Best Reality Competition award at the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards. Not only for myself as a huge geek, but more important for the LGBTQ+ community itself, this event marked another big step into a gayer future, yet again brought to us by drag icon RuPaul Charles. RuPaul paved the way for drag in pop culture.

For those of you who are not aware of this masterpiece: RuPaul’s Drag Race is a reality TV show in which 14 drag queens fight over the title of “Americas next drag superstar“. In several challenges and episodes, they must prove their talents in performing, sewing, comedy, and acting, then present a look on a runway. Besides that, they have the opportunity to brand themselves and get a head start on their careers. It’s kind of a mixture of “Americas next Topmodel“ and “Project Runway“.

Dorian Corey defining the term shade in “Paris is Burning”

But don’t forget, it’s all about men in dresses which basically means more drama and more shade. By the way, throwing shade is drag lingo and means to criticize someone in a blunt way. Nevertheless, if you’re not watching, you are totally missing out on the best show ever.

Anyways, convincing you to watch this series is not my main intention for writing this text, I first and foremost want to explain why drag becoming part of the mainstream pop culture is an important step; Not only for me and for members of the LGBTQ+ community, but for humanity itself in terms of being more accepting and loving!

In every single episode of the show, Ru concludes with one simple question: „If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?“ After watching drag race for a long time and after having reflected on this question over and over again, I realized that this phrase summarizes drag in a perfect way. For me, drag is all about loving yourself, accepting flaws and learning not be afraid of being judged.

„IF YOU CAN’T LOVE YOURSELF, HOW THE HELL YOU GONNA LOVE SOMEBODY ELSE“ — RuPaul Charles

I honestly dealt with this fear a long time. I probably still do in some ways, but I’m doing better at focusing on positive things. With the help of drag, I’m overcoming this inner saboteur of mine, which is telling me that I am not good enough and worth nothing. Seeing how people are not afraid of being their full self, of putting on a dress, make up and heels and blurring the lines between genders really inspired me. I got immersed in a new form of art, into something colorful, peaceful and in an art form full of creativity. Drag allows us to realize ourselves through performance without rules. I never experienced anything comparable; I anyways felt comfortable immediately. I found my tribe in men dressed as girls.

I want to shortly brief you about my background: I grew up in a small town in Germany, and I never experienced LGBTQ+ culture until I was old enough to move into a bigger city. I always knew I was different (sorry for sounding cheesy), but had no clue what it was or how to figure it out. Even after finding out about my own sexuality, I never had any role models or got in touch with someone who felt in a similar way that I did. I was still the gay loner. I was already interested in fashion and makeup for a long time, and gained experience with some of my mother’s products, but I never had the courage to walk full face down the street. Even down the stairs where I would face my parents or my brother. They were always accepting and supportive, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them; Shifting boundaries of gender though was something unrealistic for me, a taboo honestly- even though I felt good about myself doing it. I just wish I knew about Ru’s hit single “We’re All Born Naked And The Rest is Drag” back then.

RuPaul in and out of drag

Today, I know that it is right to always do what you feel, that gender is more than black and white. I finally found role models, people that have my back and that never fail to inspire me.

So I chose this sentence to be my mantra. Whenever I struggle I speak it to myself, I think about my past, about what shapes me, about what inspires me — and I start to feel good about myself and am not afraid to actually walk down the street with a beated fulface and falsies on (yet again, drag lingo: beating means to paint a face and falsies are fake lashes).

Gender is subjective and something really personal. This idea might be strange to a lot of people, but with the help of Ru, my new mantra and drag, I can proudly say that I feel good about not defining myself as gay or straight, I feel comfortable to experiment with gender and, which is most important, to just do what I truly enjoy, without being afraid of negativity. So please excuse me, I need to refresh my mascara.

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