By Andrea Josic
Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” crackled through the dusty laptop speakers. RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 is hosting their final “Lip Sync For Your Life” as two glorious queens attempt to out-lip sync one another for the grand prize. Jessica Bethany anxiously licks the icing off the rainbow cupcakes she bought from Walmart in support of the community.
Then, RuPaul says the magic words: “America’s next drag superstar is…Yvie Oddly!”
At this point, Bethany is sobbing. She softly gazes down at her goosebumps, proud of the fact that she’s able to let gay people contribute to her personal growth and empathy.
The third-year arts and contemporary studies student was rewatching the season 11 finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race in preparation for season 12 premiering Feb. 28 on VH1 at 8 p.m. Bethany, who considers herself a “gay man trapped inside a woman’s body,” loves gay culture for all of its “over-the-top energy.”
Every Sunday, Bethany heads over to Glad Day Bookshop for drag brunch, often as a first date with a man she just matched with on Tinder. She thinks the food and mimosas are too expensive, so she never tips the queens.
Bethany prefers going out at gay bars because being around gay men makes her feel safe and the possibility of kissing another girl feels scandalously exciting. Crews & Tangos is her club of choice because of the drag performances and the fact that she almost always manages to sneak a feel of their wigs. She usually bumps into her other straight friends there, making her excited about the empowering sense of community.
She almost wrote off Crews & Tangos when they stopped hosting bachelorette parties, upset that she lost the potential to enter a queer space with all her straight, white friends. She really wanted the full experience of getting hammered before her heterosexual matrimony and jumping onto the stage to perform with the queens.
She smiles in mediocre allyship and bare minimum solidarity
She doesn’t frequent Crews & Tangos on Friday nights, though. That’s reserved for going to Orchid Nightclub and yelling the word “dyke” in joyous unison with all the other straight people when “Stronger” by Kanye West comes on.
One night, the only lesbian in the club, who happened to have some emotional labour left to hold space for accountability, decided to approach Bethany. After being called out, Bethany replied, “What? It’s not like I said the f-word! I would never say the f-word. Dyke isn’t AS bad.”
When reminiscing about the time a girl in her high school clique came out as a lesbian in Grade 10, Bethany admirably said she shunned her from the group.
“I just had way too many boys liking me at the time and I wouldn’t be able to deal with the drama of a girl falling in love with me.”
Although the friend was one of the nicest people Bethany had ever met, she just couldn’t risk it. Even though Bethany almost kissed a girl during one of her recent outings in a gay club, she’s never been drunk enough to take the very courageous leap.
Years later, when Bethany was already a seasoned RuPaul’s fan, she bumped into the friend she bullied. Bethany, remembering that the friend was a lesbian, immediately asked her if she watches RuPaul’s. According to Bethany, the friend just walked away.
“That honestly wasn’t very slay-queen-hunty of her. Tea, sis!” exclaimed Bethany, while walking down Church Street, startling the gays nearby.
Present-day, Bethany admits she adores Drag Race because she feels like she can look up to the queens, stating, “They just are so much better at being a woman than I am!”
Before going to bed, Bethany plays a memory slideshow on her iPhone of the time she travelled to New York City for their Pride weekend. She chooses the sentimental track option and tears up at the dissolve transitions between pictures. They remind her of the PowerPoint presentations she used to make in Grade 10 civics class before she lost a friend to lesbianism.
She comes across a photo of her wearing rainbow nipple pasties and holding up a raised fist in front of The Stonewall Inn. She smiles in mediocre allyship and bare minimum solidarity.
Only two more sleeps until she can watch the premiere of season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race Feb. 28 on VH1 at 8 p.m.