RuPaul Tweets 'Train Landscape' Painting Instead Of Trans Flag In Apology And Gets Dragged

This is the latest in a long line of controversies over the past few days concerning the executive producer and presenter of the wildly successful RuPaul's Drag Race.


It has been a controversial week in the world of RuPaul’s Drag Race, not least that Ben DeLaCreme sacrificed herself and left the competition.

During the weekend, RuPaul appeared in an interview in the Guardian. The interview has sparked a debate in which many, including some Drag Race queens, have shared their thoughts. She was asked about the relationship between drag and transgender individuals and if they have a place in the successful drag competition.

“Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it,” he said. “Because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture. So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.”

For Ru, this is justification for barring cis-gender women from the competition, the waters became muddy when he was then asked how this rule applies to transgender women and non-binary individuals, of which there have been many on the show.

Ru’s response was to draw a line between trans individuals pre and post surgery. He gave the example of  Peppermint who he said was fine to go on the show as she hadn’t had breast implants before the competition.

“You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body,” he said. “It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.”

Ru received backlash online following this and then made the situation worse by comparing post-op transgender folk with athletes who take performance-enhancing drugs.

Many made the point that so many of the drag queens that have appeared on the show have identified as female. Monica Beverly Hillz appeared in and came out as trans during season 5 of the show said: ““I’ve always been a woman, so what I’ve done to my body or that I hadn’t started hormones while on the show doesn’t take away my identity,” Hillz told INTO, “Our bodies do not equate our identity.”

Peppermint responded to the comments by simply tweeting various sad face emojis.

Jiggly Caliente also said that there is a revolution amongst the rebels: “we refuse to stay marginalized and held down while you chose who to take up with you.”

Winner of season 9 Sasha Velour said that drag in her community has including all genders at every stage.

This prompted Ru to make an apology in which she says she regrets the words she used:

She tweeted this along with a picture of the art piece called Spectrum by abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly. In her second tweet about the controversy, she speaks about the only criteria she looks for when choosing queens is charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.

This image she included with this tweet did have some people confused. As the pattern reflects the pattern of the transgender flag, some thought she tweeted this image in error.

This piece is also by artist Ellsworth Kelly and is called “Train Landscape”. One user suggested that maybe Ru google image searched for “Trains flag” as opposed to “trans flag” and saved the first result to her camera roll.

On further inspection, it would seem that Ru may have chosen this image a bit more deliberately than people think. The artist Ru references worked almost exclusively in the abstract and this artwork is representative of the colour of fields seen from a moving train.

In an article from the Institute of Advanced Study, Yve-Alain Bois theorises that a key concept in Kelly’s work was in demonstrating that “How things that look apparently very simple are in fact much more complex than they see”

This would offer an explanation of Ru’s choice of image and is reflective of her views on drag being an art of abstract illusion.

Many have expressed their dissapointment in Ru’s comments as one of the only mainstream programmes that showcases the talent of the queer community.

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