In a strange turn of events last week, my husband’s picture appeared on the Instagram page of the fabulous drag queen, Courtney Act. All of our friends texted and messaged us to let us know that the RuPaul’s Drag Race celebrity had recognized Brian on social media. But, it turns out, this was not something to be celebrated. Under Brian’s picture were hundreds of comments that were mean-spirited and hurtful.
Here’s how it happened (as best I can figure): somebody somewhere decided to make a fake Grindr page using Courtney Act’s name. This mystery person made up a silly bio (writing that Courtney was a “spring break party girl” and “Native American”). And, for a profile picture, this person used a bad photo of my husband in drag. Courtney, presumably thinking the profile was funny, posted it on her Instagram page.
And then, gay guys ― the new mean girls – instantly ripped my husband to shreds.
Let me respond to some of the comments:
COMMENT: “what the hell is that hahaha.”
RESPONSE: That is my husband. He is an unwitting participant in this whole incident. He is also a human being with feelings, so perhaps you could turn down your cruelty a notch, huh?
COMMENT: “Damn Courtney got fat and old...”
RESPONSE: My husband is heavier and older than Courtney, it is true. Why does that warrant ridicule?
COMMENT: “a queen really let herself go”
RESPONSE: No, not really. He just got to be 55 years old and gained some weight along the way. Do you think Courtney will look exactly the same as she does now when she turns 55?
COMMENT: “You’re looking a bit rough Courtney”
RESPONSE: My husband is a drag queen, Thunder Showers, who is popular in the Philadelphia / New Hope region. This photo was probably taken after a long night of entertaining in a local dive bar or hookah lounge (most likely working for tips and nothing else). Thunder is hilarious, quick-witted, and does all her singing live – plus she designs and builds all of her own amazing costumes. So, Thunder might look “a bit rough” in this photo but that’s probably because she had been making people laugh for hours, hosting karaoke or Quizzo or Bingo, all for very little pay.
COMMENT: “All those late nights taking its toll”
RESPONSE: We all can’t have a team of make-up artists, wardrobe people, wig stylists, and lighting designers to keep us looking our best at all hours of the day and night, can we?
COMMENT: “OMG A MANLY QUEEN!!!!!”
RESPONSE: Many of the comments noted that Thunder looked like Jeff Daniels, Uncle Joey from Full House, John Goodman, or Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire. Apparently, looking like a man when you are a man in drag is a serious crime. We can’t all look as fishy and gorgeous as Courtney Act. Several people quoted Gia Gunn, another stunning queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race, when she said that she doesn’t like “messy … cheap … [or] manly queens.” Gia came out as transgender this week and, I assume, she hopes for support from the LGBTQ community. Brian and I have lots of trans friends and certainly wish Gia the best. I hope she isn’t as judgmental as she was when she made those comments about people who are different than she is.
In today’s political climate, we gay/bi/trans folks need to band together and support each other. We should not be tearing each other down. Haven’t we had our share of bullying already in our lives? These cruel fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race seem to have missed the central messages of the show: acceptance, love, support.
If Grindr existed 25 years ago, all these mean boys would have thought Brian was the hottest guy on it. Back then, he was a dancer and an aerobics instructor, blond and blue-eyed – everything that young gay guys want to be or want to date. But, you know what happens? Time. We can’t all look 25, buff, and lean forever. But age shouldn’t make us objects of ridicule. These young guys taking pot shots at my husband today – what do you think they are going to look like a few decades from now?
Today, my husband is still handsome, the life-of-the-party, and wildly talented. Come and see a Thunder Showers show sometime and, trust me, you will have the time of your life. He’s also a good soul. Just last month, he received an award from the Philadelphia AIDS Fund for ten years of service. He appears every month as a “Bingo Verifying Diva” (BVD) at Philly’s Gay Bingo, doing his part to help raise (over the years) millions of dollars for the AIDS Fund. Brian may not be a queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race, but he has been giving back to his community for many years.
So … Brian is not Courtney Act. He is not trying to be Courtney Act.
Is the LGBTQ community so petty that it only accepts one kind of drag queen? Or one kind of body type? Or one age range?
You know what I think? Courtney Act is no Thunder Showers.
They’re both fabulous – and distinct. And I support both. RuPaul’s Drag Race is a competition, but we gay folks don’t have to compete in real life. Especially at a time when our community’s unity is more important than ever.