RuPAUL, American drag entertainer, born; The 6’4” American drag performer, dance music singer, actor and songwriter gained worldwide fame in the 1990s; appearing in a wide variety of television programs, films, and musical albums. Though a catty attitude is often associated with drag queens, RuPaul intentionally displayed a “love one another” attitude to be set apart from them. Although primarily known for an extravagant drag queen persona, RuPaul has performed as a man in a number of roles, usually billed as RuPaul Charles. RuPaul is noted among famous drag queens for his indifference towards the gender-specific pronouns used to address him – both “he” and “she” have been deemed acceptable. “You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don’t care!”
RuPaul has been with his Australian partner, Georges LeBar, since 1994, when they met at the Limeight nightclub in New York City. They married in January 2017. LeBar is a painter and runs a 50,000-acre (200,000,000 m2) ranch in Wyoming.
RuPaul publicly endorsed the Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. He expressed dismay at Clinton’s defeat by Donald Trump, stating that “The America that we have all fought so hard for, the narrative of love and peace and liberty and equality, it feels like it is dead.” He has described doing drag as a “very, very political” act because it “challenges the status quo” by rejecting fixed identities: “drag says ‘I’m a shape-shifter, I do whatever the hell I want at any given time’.
RuPaul is widely considered to be the most commercially successful drag queen of all time. He has been accredited with creating wider exposure for drag queens from LGBT culture in to mainstream society, thanks to his early-career chart success, and later, the successive climb in viewership of RuPaul’s Drag Race. His talk show The RuPaul Show was the first ever national talk show to have a drag queen as a host. Along with his partner Michelle Visage, he welcomed an array of high-profile guests such as Cher, L’il Kim and Diana Ross over the show’s 100-episode span. As well as having a variety of comedy skits, the show was noted for discussing topics such as black empowerment, female empowerment, misogyny, and liberal politics which were otherwise unheard of in 90’s television at the time. In 1999, RuPaul was awarded the Vito Russo Awardat the GLAAD Media Awards for work in promoting equality in the LGBT community.
RuPaul has also been noted as having a large part in RuPaul’s Drag Race’s continuous television success. By pioneering queer representation on television, many believe RuPaul to have essentially revolutionised the portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. He first won an Emmy for his work on the show in 2016, and one year later the show garnered eight nominations, including Oustanding Reality-Competition Program for the first time in its 11-season run, and a second consecutive win for RuPaul in the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. He continues to rake in the Emmys.
In 2017, he was named by TIME Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world, where model Naomi Campbell cites “it’s incredible what he’s done for the drag queens […] bringing them out, introducing them to a mainstream audience and letting them be proud of who they are and what they want to be.”