There have been a plethora of inroads made when it comes to the inclusion of drag culture in mainstream media. However, we still have a long ways to go and can’t neglect to remember that drag was and is still stigmatized in media.
In Culture Cruise, a video series to documents queer milestones in entertainment, host Matt Baume spotlights the significance of RuPaul’s appearance in a 1995 episode of the sitcom, In The House.
The sitcom, which ran for five seasons from 1995 to 1999, starred rapper LL Cool J as Marion Hill, a retired football player for the Oakland Raiders, who rents the rooms in his house out to a mother and her two children after being beset by financial problems.
In the episode “Boyz II Men II Women,” RuPaul portrays Kevin, a friend of Marion who is later revealed to dress as a woman as part of his profession. Upon this revelation, Marion misinterprets his profession as meaning Kevin is gay. However, Kevin informs Marion he is straight, emphasizing that there are straight men who dress in drag.
“There are straight drag queens, just as there are women who do drag, drag kings and non-binary performers” Baume reiterates. “Playing with gender presentation is something anyone can do.”
However, Marion’s obvious discomfort with Kevin’s clothing highlights how taboo the drag culture was in the ’90s, despite RuPaul’s emerging success in the mainstream media in the wake of his 1993 debut album, Supermodel Of The World. Since then, the entertainer has gone on to become the host of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program in 2018.
Check out the episode of Culture Cruise below.
Watch the full episode here as well: