The reality TV show juggernaut RuPaul’s Drag Race is back with a sixth iteration of its All Stars series. Thirteen queens are returning to the Olympics of drag for another chance at the crown and a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame.
The franchise announced the cast of the new season last week. In All Stars fashion, the lineup features contestants from prior seasons. From fan favorites such as Pandora Boxx and Jan to iconic lip syncers such as Kylie Sonique Love and Trinity K. Bonet, the cast has a diverse set of queens.
Although the cast was mostly praised on social media, there was also a notable amount of backlash. Even media outlets such as Jezebel were quick to question the casting choices.
Even I had my questions. I was shocked to see Serena ChaCha — the second contestant to be eliminated in season 5 — back. But while there’s valid criticism for some casting choices, other harassing comments seem to be rooted in prejudice.
The upcoming season’s lineup features two openly transgender contestants, a diverse array of body types and a wide range of racial identities. Most criticism for some of the casting has not directly commented on these queens’ backgrounds, but there remain underlying biases that predispose some people to jump on the attack.
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Season 9 and 10’s Eureka O’Hara and Season 11’s Silky Nutmeg Ganache were frequently questioned by fans as contestants. Both queens were major front-runners of their seasons, winning two challenges each and securing spots in their finales — yet some have questioned their worthiness to return. Both O’Hara and Ganache are plus-sized queens, and Ganache is a person of color.
On their seasons, both queens were seen by some as “the villain,” often called loud and annoying among other rude and demeaning comments. They’ve both discussed the negative reactions they received from Drag Race fans in past seasons and the toll that took on their mental health.
While fans may not have enjoyed their runs on the show, it’s hard to dispute their worthiness to compete when it’s undeniable they both were successful on the show.
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Biased backlash is not something new to the Drag Race franchise. Queens of color have faced more targeted attacks than their white counterparts. During the most recent season, finalist Kandy Muse received a large amount of hate, being called loud, annoying, rude and famously arrogant by another contestant. Muse even stated on Twitter she almost didn’t go to the finale due to the fan reaction.
Previous queens of color have spoken out against the racially motivated hate they receive.
“People need to start calling out racism in the fan base,” season 10 contestant Mayhem Miller told Refinery29 last summer.
While the show has made statements in support of social movements such as Black Lives Matter to support their contestants, the racism within the fandom still remains.
Yet, despite of the criticism and biases of the fan base, the All Stars 6 queens look forward to returning to TV and performing for their true, loving fans. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 6 will premiere June 24 on Paramount+.