Queer Media Temporalities
Maria Pramaggiore and Páraic Kerrigan
Queerness has always been marked by its untimely relation to socially shared temporal phases, whether individual (developmental) or collective (historical). (McCallum and Tuhkanen 6)
The 2017 promotional campaign that launched Season Nine of Logo’s award-winning reality competition TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR) spoke directly to anxieties circulating within LGBT communities in the US and beyond as a result of the 2016 election of Donald Trump (LogoTV). More specifically, the marketing strategy asserted the programme’s timely relation to an unfolding history that seemed unrelentingly bleak. For, despite candidate Trump’s pledges to support the LGBT community, his administration immediately undertook actions that rolled back Obama-era advances. Trump reassigned the senior advisor for LGBT health in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), fired every member of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, attempted to ban all transgender people from serving in the US military (later limited to a ban on those who have transitioned), and sought to rescind workplace protections for LGBT people that had been recognised under Title VII of the Civil Right Act. As we write this Introduction in late 2018, Trump’s administration announced plans to redefine gender as “biologically fixed”, which will effectively “define out of existence” 1.4 million transgender Americans in the US (Green, Benner, and Pear). Sensing the growing vulnerability of queer life at the epicentre of this gathering storm, RPDR asserted its importance to American politics and culture. Prior to the airing of the season’s first episode in March 2017, TV spots and online ads featured the tagline, “drastic times call for dragtastic measures”, with Ru Paul proclaiming “we need America’s next drag superstar now more than ever” (@RuPaul; LogoTV).