Dear future history teachers, I can only apologise. After all, we’re living in the kind of hellscape that will be impossible to break down into hour long chunks that teenagers can understand (I’m living in this mess and I can barely keep up!)
The UK is dancing an unending hokey kokey with Europe, America’s President is possibly Voldemort with a spray tan, the poorest of us have never been worse off and even the Royal Family are unable to keep their shit together. Oh, and that’s not even starting on the countless elections, riots and this tiny little thing called global warming. Future history teachers, I can only wish you good luck and god speed; those lesson plans will need a miracle.
BUT there is one great thing that has come out of this whole mess. One thing that will make the history classes of fifty years from now not only bearable, but the best damn lesson ever.
I am of course, talking about Ru Pauls Drag Race.
Ok, this might seem a little unorthodox, but don’t forget this:
There is no way that in 50 years LGBT+ history won’t be taught with the same respect that civil rights are taught in todays schools.
LGBT+ history will become part of the curriculum. That’s just fact. It’s already starting to happen. In America several states require it to be taught and countless schools across the world eagerly embrace LGBT History Month. This is just the beginning. Pretty soon LGBT history won’t just be something you squeeze into lessons where possible, it will be a key part of what kids learn.
That’s because queer culture isn’t just a societal side piece. It’s part of who we are as a whole. It’s taken us centuries, but we’re starting to wake up to that fact. Just as with civil rights, LGBT rights aren’t ‘a nice to have’ or something only those in that community need to worry about, they effect everyone.
Which brings me back to Ru Paul’s Drag Race. It’s irrefutable that Drag Race has helped bring queer culture to the mainstream (no matter what you think on it’s representation of drag). It’s introduced millions of people to not only drag, but also major LGBT issues, with episodes frequently including debate and discussion of rights. Viewers have turned into allies, advocates and campaigners. Don’t get me wrong, Drag Race is not perfect by any means, but it’s contribution is HUGE.
Oh and to the argument that Drag Race isn’t high art enough to be remembered, take a seat. MASS ENTERTAINMENT IS HISTORY. Just ask William Shakespeare.
Audiences to Shakespeare’s plays were anyone and everyone. The insanely rich bought pricey seats and dressed to see and be seen. Then there with those that paid a penny and flitted between watching the show to hawking merch to make some extra cash.
Those stories were for everyone. They commented on current issues and played into trends. William Shakespeare might as well have retitled Macbeth, ‘Hey King James I heard you were well into witches now, so thought you might like this.’. It’s the perfect meld between fantastical flight and commentary on history building moments. Kind of reminds you of something, huh?
Oh and that’s not even getting into the language! Just like those sonnets of yore, slang rooted from within queer culture is part of everyday language. Who knows, maybe one day teens will be forced to both read aloud from Macbeth and Drag Race.
Then there’s the action off screen. The queens that are making history right now.
Trans activists, Sonique and Monica Beverly Hillz fighting for rights for everyone in their community. Outspoken Queens like Bob The Drag Queen, working to stop the racism that many of the shows black contestants face. It’s yet more evidence that as the fight continues, Drag Race’s does too.
Drag Race will be a leaping off point, a place to start before delving into centuries of struggle and prejudice.
The introduction to the brave heroes who fought back and were all too often forgotten. A rhinestoned beacon of hope, so needed when your traversing for the seemingly endless mires of bleakness, that yes, it does get better.