RuPaul’s Drag Race aired its very first holiday special on Friday, 7 December. As an avid Drag Race fan myself, I was curious as to what the show would entail.
The show was modeled like a single episode of Drag Race and featured eight queens from previous seasons. Sonique (season 2), Latrice Royale (season 4, All Stars season 1), Trixie Mattel (season 7, All-Stars 3 winner), Jasmine Masters (season 7) Eureka O’Hara (seasons 9 and 10), Mayhem Miller (season 10), Kim Chi (season 8), and Shangela (seasons 2, 3, and All Stars 3).
These eight queens competed to be the Christmas Queen, all while promoting RuPaul’s new holiday album.
I personally loved how G-A-Y this Christmas special was. Even RuPaul declared the ‘War on Christmas’ to be over. To me, this read as a clapback to all the conservative snowflakes who get offended if you say ‘happy holidays.’ RuPaul and the contestants really, fully embraced the Christmas aesthetic while not undermining their LGBTI pride.
Another thing that made me really happy was the inclusion of Sonique, the season 2 queen who came out as trans during the reunion episode. Considering RuPaul’s exclusionary rhetoric when it comes to trans queens competing on the show, it was amazing to see Sonique back in the Werk Room as an out and proud trans woman.
‘When I came out as being transgender, I was scared. There was nobody doing that on TV, and it was a scary time,’ Sonique told Entertainment Weekly.
‘Luckily over the past few years we as a community [are] more visible. With this administration, it’s kind of shaky, but we can’t forget who we are. We’re here now and we have to make every moment count, and that’s what pushed me and has driven me to excel in this, even if it’s just a special. It’s, to me, my way of reintroducing myself to people.’
Also, the runway looks were to DIE for. I especially loved Mayhem Miller’s Krampus outfit. With all the other queens dressed in white and gold and red and green, it was refreshing to see a darker, creepier take on the Christmas season.
Oh! And let’s not forget the fact RuPaul and Michelle Visage competed against each other in a very special Lip Sync For Your Life. RuPaul even twerked!
Spoiler Alert: ALL the contestants were ‘winners’ of the episode. All eight were crowned Christmas Queen. To me, this felt like a bit of a cop-out. However, considering there were many queens on this episode I was rooting for (Eureka IS jolly, as is Latrice, as is Shangela, as is Kim Chi…), I was slightly relieved that there wasn’t just one winner.
Another thing I wasn’t too thrilled about was the fact that by ‘holiday special,’ they only meant Christmas. There was no mention of other winter holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or even just the winter solstice. Before the queens debuted their runway looks, RuPaul referred to them as ‘non-denominational.’ This term is only inclusive of different types of Christians, unlike ‘secular,’ which would leave religion out of it entirely. So as a Jew, I didn’t feel included or represented in the episode. But, this was just the first ever RPDR holiday special. So perhaps next year they’ll consider more diversity. At least I hope! I mean, they could have on Miz Cracker, a proud Jewish queen. I’d watch that!
While I was watching and feeling disillusioned at the lack of non-Christian representation, I noticed a quick shot of a Menorah, a Hanukkah object, among the Christmas decorations backstage.
I don’t know what the point of this was. Was it to show solidarity with the Jewish community following the deadly Tree of Life synagogue shooting?
I knew from Twitter that some Christians were putting Menorahs in their windows to show solidarity with Jews. However, many Jewish people on Twitter find this act appropriative. The Menorah is not simply a decoration, but an object of worship.
Non-Jewish Friends who wish to stand with the Jewish community, against #AntiSemitism & in solidarity w/#TreeofLife #Pittsburgh this #Chanukah: Placing a menorah in the window is what we Jews do. How about you join us by printing a sign with a menorah that says, #LoveThyNeighbor
— Rabbi Latz (@RavMABAY) December 1, 2018
Fellow Christians: don’t appropriate religious symbols, rites, or sacred practices in worship or in public. It’s problematic for a variety of reasons. No menorah in the window now; no Christian seders during Holy Week. Beware performative allyship. https://t.co/i61awE2T8n
— Rev. Dr. Aaron Maurice Saari ✝️🎶🇫🇮🌈✊🏻🤦🏻♂️ (@RescuingJudas) November 30, 2018
I’m all about acts of solidarity but you don’t need to put a menorah in your window if you aren’t Jewish. Just give me some gelt.
— Molly Tolsky (@mollytolsky) December 3, 2018
And for non-Jews wanting to show “solidarity” – eg: displaying a menorah – don’t be just a fan. Be an active ally:
— BPI Squirrel 🏳️🌈 (@bpicampus) December 2, 2018
Not a fan of non-Jewish people lighting the menorah to show solidarity. Instead of taking our traditions and diminishing them to another commercialized decoration, how about you speak up about antisemitism vocally and regularly?#chanuka
— Zev Shields (@ZevShields) December 2, 2018
So, yeah, this split-second display of solidarity wasn’t necessarily in the best taste.
Overall, I enjoyed the first RuPaul’s Drag Race Holiday Special. Some of my favorite queens from previous seasons made appearances and, as usual, the costumes were amazing. Still, I would have liked to see more diverse representation. The word ‘holiday,’ for me, is a secular word that can be inclusive of all belief systems. But this show was basically exclusively about Christmas. And that’s fine — I’m well aware that even non-religious people celebrate Christmas. It just would have been nice to see acknowledgment of America’s non-Christians, especially considering the anti-Semitic and Islamophobic beliefs perpetuated by the current administration. But hey, there’s always next year!
And for now, we can anticipate All Stars 4, premiering on 14 December. Watch the full-length trailer below: