Whether it’s “The Bachelor” or “Love is Blind,” many people have their favorite reality TV shows they look forward to watching every week. For some Western Washington University students, the show of choice is “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” airs on VH1 and is a show in which drag queens from around the United States compete to become the next drag superstar. In the 13 years the show has been on the air, it has gained a large following and multiple international franchises.
Every Friday at 8 p.m., AS Productions hosts “RuPaul's Drag Race Season 14 Screenings” in the Viking Union. Students gather in the lobby to watch the show and discuss the episode during commercial breaks.
While screenings for the show are typically held at bars like Rumors Cabaret, fourth-year AS Films Coordinator Raven Klingele said she wanted to host more accessible screenings for students.
“Bars are not accessible for everybody, there are people who are too young to go to bars or just don't want to, for whatever reason,” she said. “So, I thought it would be nice to have a space where people could go to see the show together and have that communal experience of watching it with other people without having to be in a bar.”
Klingele started hosting the weekly screenings for the current season of “Drag Race” this year. She said while attendance has been low, the screenings so far have been successful because the attendees have been able to create a sense of community through discussing the show.
Rumors Cabaret, an LGBTQ+ nightclub downtown, also hosts “Drag Race” screenings every Friday at 7:30 p.m.; however, they are exclusive to individuals who are 21 and up and structured differently than the screenings hosted at Western.
The screenings, also known as ‘watch parties,’ at Rumors are hosted by local drag artists who share commentary throughout the episode on a microphone, according to Alex Heape, a drag queen and frequent guest host of the parties. The watch parties are also followed by a drag show titled “Queer Ass Fridays.”
Heape said that the sense of community the watch parties provide has had lasting effects. One regular attendee to the events felt encouraged by others at Rumors to live their life in their truth as a transgender person.
“I do think, especially for people who enjoy ‘Drag Race,’ coming to Rumors really does bring people together, even if it's just to watch a show,” he said.
Third-year Emily Huntley attended a screening at Western for the first time on March 4 and said she attended because she wanted to get more in touch with others in the LGBTQ+ community.
“The [‘Drag Race’ screening] group is very open and welcoming to new viewers,” Huntley said. “I loved watching the show with them as the show is very much centered around community, and it was wonderful to watch it with people from the Bellingham queer community.”
To learn more about AS Production’s “RuPaul's Drag Race Season 14 Screenings,” go to their WIN page. To learn more about the watch parties at Rumors Cabaret, go to their website to find their social media pages.
Sol Vandeman (they/he) is the campus life editor for The Front this quarter. They’re a sophomore currently pursuing a major in journalism with a minor in women, gender and sexuality studies. Sol would describe themselves as the “Elle Woods” of The Front. As a reporter, they focused on art and social justice at Western. Outside of journalism, Sol enjoys doing drag and religiously listening to pop music divas. Their Instagram is @solasinthesun.