RuPaul's Drag Race Hopes to Expand to Uganda, Russia and Iran

(AP Photo/Denise Malone/World of Wonder Productions)

The creator of the controversial television show RuPaul’s Drag Race is hoping to take the concept to far-flung locations, including those with less than favorable laws toward LGBT people.


In an interview with inews, co-creator Fenton Bailey said he hoped to take the concept around the world to improve tolerance for LGBT rights.

Sometimes people say, ‘Isn’t there too much Drag Race?’ I say no, because even though drag has always existed there are still countries where it is oppressed or forbidden. And so to me, what’s worth getting out of bed for, is to figure out how to make Drag Race China, or Drag Race Russia, or Drag Race Iran, because — although not didactically a political show — the message of Drag Race, of individuality and self-invention, of live-and-let-live, is what we need.

He went on to argue that although it may take a long time, acceptance of drag shows in anti-LGBT countries such as Uganda (where homosexuality is currently punishable by death) will ultimately prevail:

It may seem ridiculous to say it: how long will it take to get Drag Race Uganda? But I believe it will happen. It may take a long time. It took about five or six years to get a UK version up and running. I couldn’t be happier that it’s on the BBC. But it’s a long game.

The show, which has also launched in the United Kingdom, is described by IMDB as a “reality show in which a group of talented drag queens competes in challenges to impress host RuPaul, the world’s most famous drag queen, to win a cash prize along with a crown and the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar.” It has featured guest appearances from Democratic lawmakers including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).


“Each episode consists of a main challenge, usually some form of performance or fashion design — sometimes both,” it explains. “The queens then participate in a themed runway show, where one is declared the winner of that week, while two others are announced to be up for elimination. The bottom two must then compete to stay on the show with a lip-sync for their lives.”

The prevalence of drag queens has become a hot-button political and cultural flashpoint across America over recent years, as progressive activists insist in subjecting children to “Drag Queen Storytime” and various other inappropriate interactions. The issue has led to a number of Republican states passing legislation prohibiting the performance of drag-related acts in front of young children.

However, Fenton insists that opposition to drag queens and gender-bending activities is merely further evidence of conservative intolerance and hatred towards supposedly marginalized communities.

“In some ways, I think it’s very simple,” he explained. “It’s like bullies at school, picking on who they think is the weak target. It’s great to create a climate of fear — pointing out what doesn’t seem normal to distract from the fundamental complexities that our political leaders are unable to deal with. It’s a distraction policy.”


“Historically, there’s always been people who have tried to turn the clock back,” he continued. “That always causes a lot of pain and suffering but it will never succeed. We have to fight and we are fighting.”


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