Pride Month is in full swing this year, with celebrations happening around the globe. However, many are attempting to stifle these events. Recently, governor Bill Lee of Tennessee has attempted to ban drag shows from his state, claiming that these performances are "sexual in nature" and can harm children in attendance. This law, while specifically targeting drag queens, also harms trans and non-binary citizens.
The Supreme Court has just deemed this bill unconstitutional, but living in a state where the goverment is attacking drag performers' livelihoods has the community scared to be their authentic selves. However, for the past sixteen years, Rupaul's Drag Race has given drag queens an outlet to show their skills on a worldwide level. This has greatly increased patronage at drag events, and has opened drag up to enter mainstream media.
As queer people across the country rebel against intolerance, lets look back at some iconic drag performers who have greatly impacted the fashion industry.
Violet Chachki is a 30-year-old drag queen who was featured on Rupaul's Drag Race Season 7. Chachki was the style queen of the season, wowing audiences worldwide with her elevated taste in fashion. Violet was 22 when her season of Drag Race aired, becoming one of the youngest competitors in the show's history. She stunned judges of the competition series with her gender-bending high fashion take on runway categories, cementing herself as a style icon.
Violet Chachki went viral after her "Death Becomes Her" look, snatching her waist to a mere 18 inches in order to give an illusion of asphyxiation. Triumphing as winner of her season, Chachki soon after spread her wings and embraced her eye for fashion. The young drag queen has walked in runways for iconic brands such as Moschino, and starred in a campaign film for Prada with Sarah Paulson in 2018.
Known out of drag as Kade Gottlieb, Gottmik is the first contestant on Rupaul's Drag Race to compete as a transgender man. Gottmik is known for their signature black and white makeup, using white foundation with black eyeshadow, lipstick, and contour to create an immediately recognizable mug.
The 26 year old drag queen spent over 20,000 dollars curating their wardrobe for the competition show, taking advantage of every second of screen time available to flaunt their elaborate wardrobe. Gottmik's style takes inspiration from a range of aesthetics, from clowncore to hyper-femininity, playing with the idea of gender norms. Gottlieb stated in an interview with Coveteur, "Gender is stupid and I want to tear it apart and play with it and confuse people.” Now with over 1.4 million followers on Instagram, Gottmik uses her platform to not only show off her most recent looks, but support queer youth around the world.
Raja is a highly influential queen who has been in the drag scene for over 30 years, sealing her success on Drag Race as the winner of season 3. Raja was known for her expertise in the fashion industry, working as a makeup artist for America's Next Top Model cycles 4 through 12. Raja wowed audiences of Rupaul's Drag Race during her season by creating a gown made of fake money from scratch.
This legendary queen has appeared in campaigns for brands such as Diesel, and voiced themselves in an episode of The Simpsons. On her effect as a performer, Raja stated to The Newsette, "I believe in leaving a legacy, and to know that I have helped people be better, more authentic versions of themselves is absolutely priceless.
Kim Chi, a Korean-American drag queen from Chicago, is known for blending her fashion taste with her rich heritage. Living in South Korea for most of their childhood, Kim Chi grew up being teased as the "weird, fat art kid". However, when she moved back to America, she also faced hardships for her Asian heritage. Kim Chi used drag as an outlet to gain back her confidence, and now is loved by millions across the world.
She describes her aesthetic as a 'bionic doily', embracing her love for anime and beauty, while twisting the two into something uniquely Kim Chi. Now with over 1.9 million followers on Instagram, this queen was deemed by Vulture as the 17th most powerful drag queen in America. She now has her own beauty line, Kim Chi Chic, and is still carrying the "fat, femme, and asian" title proudly as her career continues.
Drag is an art form that has been around for centuries, and can be practiced by anyone. During the Elizabethan period, women were not allowed to perform on stage, so men were known to play both male and female roles. Now, drag performers are struggling to find work in areas with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Drag is not influential just in the fashion world, but allows performers to explore their gender and express themselves outside their day-to-day life. To support LGBTQ+ charities in America, go to the Drag Isn't Dangerous GoFundMe or the Trevor Project's website.