Over 40,000 attendees attended the 3rd Annual RuPaul’s DragCon in Los Angeles over the weekend.
The convention, the largest celebration of drag art and culture in the world, tripled its total attendance since its debut in 2015.
Spearheaded by RuPaul and World of Wonder (the production company behind “RuPaul’s Drag Race”), the convention took on a political stance this year.
“At RuPaul’s DragCon, we celebrate all the colors of the rainbow,” declared RuPaul, who recently won the Emmy for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. “We have an orange president that wraps himself in red, white and blue. How are you going to make America great again if you can’t love all the colors of the rainbow?”
“The expressions of love, family and imagination that flooded the LA Convention Center this past weekend made RuPaul’s DragCon the happiest and most fabulous place on earth,” says Randy Barbato, World of Wonder co-founder.
The panels — featuring LGBTQ and drag personalities featured on “Drag Race” — ranged from the superficial (Wig-ography: A Master Class) to the serious (The Art of Resistance).
One of the most engaging panel was entitled What is Drag In Trump’s America, which featured recent “Drag Race” winners Alaska, Bob the Drag Queen, and current contestant Eureka.
“When I first started drag, it was the Bush era and I was in college and I felt very angry,” Alaska said. “Drag is something real. We’re so fake that something real actually comes through. When Trump was put into office, that anger was reignited and we have a lot more work to do.”
Addressing potential rollbacks of LGBT rights under the Trump administration, Bob the Drag Queen said issues go beyond one figurehead.
“You don’t treat a cough. You find out why you’re coughing. Coughing is a symptom of something wrong with your body,” Bob explained. “Trump is not the problem. Trump is a symptom of what is actually going on. Trump is just a cough.”
They also addressed how drag has become mainstream — VH1 picked up “Drag Race” from Logo this year — and the good and bad that comes with increased visibility.
“Drag went from being referential to being referenced,” Bob said. “I will be out at the club and see someone who constructed an outfit in their basement. And I will look on TV and Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Cher, Beyonce will be wearing that same thing. They will have gone to Givenchy or whatever labels to just take what came from us.”
However they agreed there are some positives.
“The term ‘girlfriend’ was developed in the gay community first. They have a lip-syncing show with LL Cool J,” explained Eureka. “Getting that mainstream focus is a double-edged sword. It’s bad because a lot of our ideas, our creativity is being taken. But I also love it because exposure is the biggest step to keep persecution and discrimination out of our younger generation. The weirder we seem, the less weird we look to them as they grow older. I’m normal now!”
“‘Drag Race’ is the honestly most important show to queer culture in the history of television,” Bob added. “There have never been this many queer people on one show telling real stories. Or this many trans women of color on one show.”
With the show’s popularity rising, the west coast event is heading east.
During his keynote address Sunday, RuPaul announced the inaugural RuPaul’s DragCon NYC. The event will be held on September 30th through October 1st, 2017 in New York City. Several notable contestants from “Drag Race” call the Big Apple home, including winners Bob the Drag Queen and Bianca Del Rio, as well as Milk, Thorgy Thor, and Acid Betty.