Reunion episodes are typically ripe for drama. From Real Housewives to Jersey Shore juiceheads, bringing everyone together again to rehash and reopen old wounds almost always results in tears, fights and meme-able moments that will keep the fandom talking till next season. Early seasons of Drag Race were no exception. The Season One reunion may be one of the best episodes of the entire series; most fans are familiar with Tammie Brown’s infamous “I don’t see you walking children in nature!” but may not know that she was actually snapping back at RuPaul that episode regarding some of the more exploitative elements of the show.
Asia Stands Up for The Vixen
This week, we saw Asia O’Hara stand up not just to RuPaul but to a general spirit of apathy she perceived within the gay community. The catalyst, of course, was The Vixen’s abrupt exit from the conversation after a contentious debate with RuPaul and some of the other queens about her choice to either speak up or stay silent in moments of conflict. Fans have been divided on this issue – and on The Vixen in general – but facts are facts: Everyone was telling her how to react to Eureka, but no one was telling Eureka how to act.
Asia challenged this idea that we should just “give up” on people who don’t seem willing to listen. RuPaul insisted that it was necessary sometimes and that there was nothing he could say or do to get through to The Vixen. But the problem, Asia challenged, was RuPaul’s approach, and to be fair, she had a point. RuPaul often relies on passion and volume to propel his ideas about how to exist in this world, but in this situation, it was less of a sermon and more of a steamrolling. Also, despite RuPaul insisting that it was simply not possible, we saw Asia get through to The Vixen only weeks earlier. Fundamentally, none of what Asia said in that one-on-one discussion in the workroom was that different from what RuPaul was trying to say at the reunion. But Asia succeeded by allowing The Vixen to feel heard and respected first.
While it’s important to remember that this is just a TV show, it’s also more than that. “What happens on Drag Race is a microcosm of what happens in the real world,” RuPaul said at one point in the episode. Ultimately, the ongoing debate about whether The Vixen should have gotten involved in the Miz Cracker/Aquaria conflict at the top of the season is not nearly important as the question of whether to speak out or stay silent for the sake of avoiding conflict. That has long been a question for the queer community as a whole. According to RuPaul, The Vixen instigated conflict by speaking the truth when she knew it would create tension in the room. And, sure, perhaps she didn’t need to involve herself in Cracker and Aquaria’s issue, but promoting a larger theme of staying silent to maintain a status quo is profoundly misguided.
Is Kameron Too Quiet?
RuPaul shifted gears, checking in with Dusty Ray Bottoms, Monique Heart, Blair St. Clair and Monet X Change on how each queen has navigated their own real life challenges of coming out, finding their tribe and healing addiction. Besides Asia’s confrontation with Ru, the Top 4 mostly spoke when spoken to – especially, of course, Kameron Michaels, who came under fire from Monique, Dusty and Monet for her introverted behavior during and even after the season.
While Kameron insisted she was just intimidated by a workroom full of professional drag queens, Monet called her out for strategically keeping any criticisms or shady comments to herself. In a profoundly ironic turn of events, Kameron was chastised and even considered untrustworthy for not speaking up – right after The Vixen was criticized for speaking up. While it’s a broad comparison and there are nuances to each side, it’s hard to miss the dichotomy here. RuPaul essentially told The Vixen, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” while the message to Kameron was more along the lines of, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then we need to hear it.”
At the end of the episode, RuPaul suggested that, while she may be the matriarch of this family, “You are all my teachers,” echoing the same sentiment he tweeted in February in response to controversial statements he made about trans performers in an interview with The Guardian. We certainly hope he’s paying attention to the example Asia O’Hara is setting. Ru – so often referred to as “Mother” – could stand take a page from Asia’s own maternal instincts. Our money may still be on Aquaria to take the crown at the finale as America’s Next Drag Superstar, but in our eyes Asia O’Hara is true drag royalty.
Want to queen out each week on Season 10 with Alright Mary is a weekly recap podcast and deep dive into all things RuPaul’s Drag Race. We go in on the queens, behind the scenes, the larger social themes explored on the show and as much reddit T as we can get our mitts on. Subscribe on iTunes and follow us on Twitter @alrightmary!
Last modified: July 5, 2018