Scroll To Top
Entertainment

Graham Norton Sees An Upside To Drag Bans And Anti-drag Rhetoric

Graham Norton Sees An Upside To Drag Bans And Anti-drag Rhetoric

Graham Norton
Sam Aronov/Shutterstock

The host of 'Queen of the Universe' has a unique take on the current backlash over drag.

While drag bans seem to be multiplying everyday, Graham Norton thinks there may be a hidden upside to the blatant bigotry.

Norton hosts the drag singing competition show Queen of the Universe alongside Michelle Visage, Trixie Mattel, Mel B, and Vanessa Williams. The show is currently in the middle of its second season, but even though it only premiered in 2021 so much about the way drag is viewed has changed — especially in the United States.

Anti-drag rhetoric and outright bans have been sweeping across the country and anti-transgender extremists in the UK have recast drag as “child grooming.”

But despite this, Norton thinks that there may be a silver lining to all the hate the right is spewing, “It’s so ridiculous that I think that bit of the right wing have sort of overestimated how thick people are,” he told The Guardian in a recent interview.

He continued, “I think people are gonna go: ‘Oh, wait a minute. So everything you say is bulls**t?’ Because clearly we are not facing a threat from drag queens. It’s just a form of entertainment. It’s older than God.”

Drag queens from around the world compete to win a $250,000 prize on Queen of the Universe, but Norton said that when the show started he hadn’t considered just how dangerous performing in drag is and how much hostility there is toward drag in places like Tennessee.

“It must be terrifying,” he admitted to the publication. “You’re so vulnerable anyway, because you’re so obvious. Which one’s the drag queen? There are no dressing rooms in bars or anything – they have to get ready at home. And then they either walk to the bar or get an Uber; in New York that’s fine, but there must be places now where that’s not such a comfortable thing to do.”

Norton has also been a guest star on all eight seasons of Drag Race UK and commented on how much the industry and art form have changed over the years.

“The success of Drag Race has made drag much more popular,” Norton said in the interview, “but it’s also raised the bar so ridiculously. Back in the day, when I worked in restaurants, we’d go to gay bars and there would be a drag act at the end of the night, and I’m pretty sure most of them had just one dress, one wig. They wandered out, did a few jokes, maybe sang a song, messed with the audience. And we were delighted. That was good enough.”

The Irish comedian continued, “Now, they need to have costume reveals, they need to do death drops. That comes from that American tradition, that thing of serving looks. UK drag is so firmly based in comedy, right?”

Despite how bleak the state of the world is right now Norton’s positivity shines brightly. “Your job is to entertain people and to either make people forget other awfulness or to make them believe that things aren’t as awful as they thought they were,” he said. “Maybe that’s where my positivity comes from. Or maybe I’m in this world because I have that view. I don’t know.”

We could all use a little bit of Norton's positivity right now!

You can stream Queen of the Universe on Paramount+.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

author avatar

Ariel Messman-Rucker

Ariel Messman-Rucker is an Oakland-born journalist who now calls the Pacific Northwest her home. When she’s not writing about politics and queer pop culture, she can be found reading, hiking, or talking about horror movies with the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network.

Ariel Messman-Rucker is an Oakland-born journalist who now calls the Pacific Northwest her home. When she’s not writing about politics and queer pop culture, she can be found reading, hiking, or talking about horror movies with the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network.