People don't talk about that part as much, though.
Yes, "Paris is Burning" is about race. It's about how queer PoC experience racism.
Yes, segregation "ended" before the 1960s, but that doesn't mean it was over.
The first time you see it, it strikes you as a moment in time. But when you re-watch it, years later, it drives home how much more has been lost to time - and yet, how little has changed for the better.
That's what's really on display in a drag performance, by virtue of its absence.
Their privilege is invisible to them, so an art form which is all about highlighting privilege is lost on them.
a) knows that they *aren't* executives
b) knows *why* society won't view them as "real" executives
Executive Realness is a ball category, but if Jeff Bezos showed up and tried to walk? Would that be realness?
Fuck no! He's already a CEO, and the world recognizes that. It's the opposite of realness.
(Partly because those terms and identities were still being defined within queer culture - they were at the forefront of it!)
But dynamics within the predominantly Black and Latino queer drag scene are very different from dynamics with mainstream.
Nowadays, trans women who take estrogen monitor their vital organ functions, but most of these women then didn't (or couldn't).
Again, queer terminology isn't rigid (because, duh, gender and sexuality aren't rigid either).
Trans women have always been a part of drag ball culture, from the *very beginning*. And RuPaul was there, so he would know that!
Watching it in 1990, it would seem positively cheery and uplifting, compared to watching it today, when you see the bleak hopelessness pervade every moment.
For her, drag was not a performance; it was a rehearsal.
But if you're looking for uplifting happy endings, that's the closest you'll get. The most chilling moment every time, for me, is the scene where Venus Xtravaganza talks about the dangers of sex work, and how she wants to stop escorting.
For first-time viewers, it's just a scary story. For those of us who've seen it before, and know the ending, it's like hearing a ghost talk about her own murder.
Venus Xtravaganza's murder was not an isolated incident - trans women were frequently attacked and killed.
Nor is it a matter of the past - trans people are being murdered at *higher* rates today than they were in 1988. Mostly trans women of color.
But theory isn't practice, which is why one of the dancers in the movie died of AIDS in 2006 - long after single-drug combos were on the market.
...except people are *still* dying of AIDS, today. Yes, in the US.
As it turns out, those gains have been captured almost entirely by white cis gay men and women.