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June is LGBTQ Pride Month, and in this blog, we’re looking at how it’s place in society has evolved since it burst into being on the evening of June 28,1969, resulting from a police raid on a dingy bar on Sheridan Square in New York’s Greenwich Village.

The Stonewall Inn was infamous for its drag queens, hustlers and older gentlemen looking for a little action in its very dark, very intense back room. Of all the places one would not expect a riot to break out… this was the place. But what transpired that evening has become legend because a bunch of drag queens protested when the police entered and started to hassle the patrons. Their response was that of a bar full of angry homosexuals, who took off their high heels, their wigs and said no – and a riot ensued, and a movement was born. 

On June 28th of the following year, thousands of homosexuals and their friends from across the country and around the world assembled at the Stonewall and marched up 5th Avenue to Central Park where they commemorated their decision to say, enough is enough. That Gay Day of Pride became a reality and has grown into the world-wild, LGBTQ Pride Month celebration.

THE QUEEN (1968)
The first American feature film about drag, documenting the 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Contest,


As time rolled on, gay men began to suffer and die a grueling, tortious death. And as those numbers exploded, it was clear the homosexual population was experiencing a world-wide epidemic with no end in sight. Governments ignored that reality, and it took the men and their friends, who marched every year on Pride Day, to protest and demand that something must be done.  The response was slow, and many continued to suffer and die, but the AIDS epidemic was eventually brought under control – but not without a staggering sacrifice. However, what it did do was to force the government and the populus to acknowledge that the LGBTQ community has a right to exist and to be treated with respect like any other member of society.

Andy Warhol said of his superstar Curtis, “Jackie Curtis is not a drag queen. Jackie is an artist. A pioneer without a frontier.” 


That respect carried over with the result that a law was passed guaranteeing the LGBTQ community’s right to live their lives and to love and marry who they chose regardless of the sex.

Poster for the New York debut of the Cockettes and Sylvester, a legendary fiasco. The Cockettes were a queer avant-garde hippie theatre troupe that formed in the fall of 1969 in San Francisco.


While the LGBTQ community is now  acknowledged and enshrined in law, there was still a certain element that had not received the same recognition and respect it was due, the “drag queen” which, in many circles was a derogatory description of men who like to dress as women.

 Set of 7 oversize photos by Kenn Duncan for After Dark magazine.

Men who prefer a feminine persona , either as personal identity or as a performer, dates from the Greeks, as detailed in our blogs, DRAG BEFORE RUPAULFROM BEEFCAKE TO DRAG, and JULLIAN ELTINGE & THE FEMINIME MYSTIQUE .


RuPaul, now known as “America’s Drag Queen,” became a force unto himself and changed the concept of drag queen forever. 

Born, Andre Charles, November 17, 1960, in San Diego, he studied performing arts in Atlanta, before relocating to New York City, where he became a popular fixture on the LGBT nightclub scene. He achieved international fame as a drag queen with the release of his debut single, “Supermodel (You Better Work)“, which was included on his debut studio album Supermodel of the World (1993).  He promoted himself to become a television personality, actor, singer, producer, and writer. 

He created the reality competition television series RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2009 and as producer, host, and judge has gone on to produce sixteen seasons in the United States. He has received numerous accolades, including 14 Primetime Emmy Awards, three GLAAD Media Awards, a Critics’ Choice Television Award, two Billboard Music Awards, and a Tony Award. He has been dubbed the “Queen of Drag” and is considered the most commercially successful drag queen in the United States.

An all-male female impersonator/drag company revue performing in the UK and touring widely during the Second World War, and the years following,  This 1951-dated poster is for a performance of the revue at the Empire Theatre in Newcastle.

The show has also seen international success. There are several international variants of the show, including RuPaul’s Drag Race UK (2019–present) and Canada’s Drag Race (2020–present). This has also inspired several spin-offs of the main show, including RuPaul’s Drag U (2010–2012), RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, (2012–present), and RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race (2020–2022). 

RuPaul has made appearances in films, including  Crooklyn (1994), The Brady Bunch Movie(1995), To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), and But I’m a Cheerleader(1999), as well as television series, including Girlboss (2017), Broad City (2017), and Grace and Frankie (2019). He created and starred in his own Netflix original series AJ and the Queen(2020). RuPaul has also published four books: Lettin’ It All Hang Out (1995), Workin’ It! RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style (2010), GuRu (2018), and The House of Hidden Meanings (2024). As a recording artist, he has released fifteen studio albums. He received a Tony Award for Best Musical as a producer for the musical A Strange Loop (2019).


“Arguably the most commercially successful drag queen in America,” according to Sami Main of Adweek, who credits him with creating wider exposure for drag queens from LGBT culture into mainstream society, thanks to his early chart topping 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 CherLil 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 empowermentmisogyny, and liberal politics that were otherwise unheard of in 1990s television. In 1999, RuPaul was awarded the Vito Russo Award at the GLAAD Media Awards for work in promoting equality in the LGBT community.

CRAIG RUSSELL [ca. 1980] 
Canadian actor Craig Russell emerged in the mid-1970s as a major performer specializing in impersonations onstage of such celebrities as Carol Channing, Bette Davis, Mae West and Barbra Streisand.

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 revolutionized 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 Outstanding 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. In 2017, he was included in the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. In 2019, Fortune noted RuPaul as “easily the world’s most famous” drag queen. And his success and influence has not stopped.