Story at a glance
- The 14th season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will feature its first heterosexual, cisgender male contestant when it premieres early next month on VH1.
- The show has previously come under fire for its less-than-inclusive casting, and the upcoming season will also feature two trans women.
- Fan reactions to the news that a straight man would be joining the cast of “Drag Race” were mixed, with some arguing that it defeats the very purpose of the show.
VH1’s Emmy-winning reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will return for its 14th season early next month, making history with its first-ever heterosexual, cisgender male contestant.
Maddy Morphosis, who identifies as a cisgender, heterosexual male, will compete against 13 other queens, including two trans women, to be the next drag superstar. The winner will also receive a $100,000 prize.
In a livestreamed event last week, Morphosis said she doesn’t consider her gender identity or sexual orientation to factor into her drag performance, which she says is about questioning the very concepts of masculinity and femininity.
"While I am straight, I don't consider myself a straight drag queen. I'm just a drag queen who happens to be straight," she said. "My sexuality doesn't define the drag that I do, it doesn't impact that. It's just a facet of who I am outside of drag."
In an open letter posted to her Twitter and Instagram accounts over the weekend, Morphosis said she first entered the drag world after graduating from high school, discovering a safe place to explore her identity.
“If there’s a message that I hope to convey to people, it’s that you don’t have [to] inhabit the box society puts you in just to be comfortable in your own sexuality,” she wrote.
RuPaul in 2018 faced intense backlash after telling The Guardian drag would lose “its sense of danger and its sense of irony" if “bio queens,” or cisgender women drag performers, were to be cast on the show.
He also said he would “probably not” accept a transgender contestant who had transitioned from male to female. Ninth season runner-up Peppermint was the show’s first queen to enter as an openly trans woman, but had not yet transitioned, according to RuPaul.
The franchise since then has been expanding its definition of drag, welcoming cisgender lesbian Victoria Scone and bisexual Scaredy Kat on “Drag Race UK.” Kylie Sonique Love became the first openly trans winner on season six of “All Stars,” on which the franchise’s first pansexual trans male, GottMilk, also competed.
But Maddy is the franchise’s first competitor who does not identify as being part of the LGBTQ+ community, which some fans have said defeats the purpose of “Drag Race,” which gives it a globalized platform.
“Oh yes, the most oppressed group of people needed representation in media,” one fan tweeted in response to an announcement that Maddy would be joining the cast.
But others said “Drag Race,” and drag in general, was about making a safe and creative space for everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
“Why are people acting as if this is a terrible thing,” another wrote. “Drag can be for everyone.”
Still others criticized “Drag Race” producers’ decision to cast a white, cisgender, heterosexual male not because they believe drag is only for queer people, but because the show is likely using Maddy to stir up controversy rather than prioritizing actual inclusion.
“The problem is the show, not the drag,” one fan said.
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