Got to be Real: Queering Reality, Identity, and Audience Affect on RuPaul’s Drag Race

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McHarge, Erin Elise




The meteoric rise of RuPaul's Drag Race in popular culture has given the extravagant subculture of drag a mainstream platform through reality television. Drag Race constructs queer identities and drag performances to make them palatable for both LGBTQ+ and cisheterosexual audiences alike. To understand how audience members consume and understand queerness and drag, I interviewed self-identified fans of Drag Race and recollected my own connections with the show. Coupled with queer and affect theory, these interviews inform my analysis of Drag Race and how it depicts queerness and the impact it has on viewers. Audiences are endeared to RuPaul's drag reality through the queering of the reality television genre, the onstage/offstage/backstage depictions of gender and sexuality, and affective relationships they build with the show. RuPaul's Drag Race invites fans behind the curtain of drag performances to be entertained by personal narratives of queerness beyond the spectacular drag persona.


Gender Studies
Cultural Anthropology
Mass Communications




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Women's and Gender Studies

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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