Graham Norton says there’s a positive side to the anti-drag movement – but it’s not what you think

Graham Norton says there's a roundabout upside to anti-drag movements. (Getty)

Graham Norton has given his take on rising anti-drag sentiment, and concluded that the “bulls**t” coming from right-wing bigots may come with an unexpected silver lining.

It’s no secret that when it comes to drag, we live in a world of two halves. On one hand, RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars is on its eighth season, Bob the Drag Queen is due to tour with Madonna and Jinkx Monsoon is dominating broadway and TV, among other glittering examples of queer success.

On the other hand, anti-drag rhetoric is steadily rising across the globe, with legislation banning the art form being introduced across the US, protests against drag queens popping up in London and clinical psychologists warning of how the current climate can affect queer people’s mental health.

Beloved TV host and comedian Graham Norton is currently hosting the second season of drag singing competition Queen of the Universe, alongside Trixie Mattel, Michelle Visage, Mel B and Vanessa Williams. This is one such example of drag queens being allowed to shine at their loudest and brightest.

Norton is not particularly worried that that’s going to be taken away any time soon.

Talking to The Guardian, he said that there may be a surprising upside to the targeting of drag artists.

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“It’s so ridiculous that I think that bit of the right wing have sort of overestimated how thick people are,” he said.

“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.”

Norton also commented on the current hostility towards drag in Tennessee, and how it must feel to be a drag performer there.

“It must be terrifying,” he said. “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.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Norton, who has appeared as a guest judge on all four seasons of Drag Race UK, also commented on the evolution of drag with regards to the show.

“The success of Drag Race has made drag much more popular,” Norton told the publication, “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.

“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?”

Queen of the Universe is available to stream on Paramount+.

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