When someone actively chooses to waste a perfectly wonderful opportunity, one for which thousands of people would give up a lung for, there is usually no love lost. It’s hard to support a quitter. But on Thursday night’s (Sept. 1) episode of “Drag Race: All Stars” Season 2, Adore Delano decides she can’t hack it.
Normally, throwing in the towel is not looked upon with sympathy, but creator and host RuPaul has never played by normal rules, anyway. His reaction to Adore quitting is a perfect example of what makes him one of the most brilliant forward thinkers of our time.
When a contestant quits on a reality show like “The Real World,” “Survivor” or “Big Brother,” unless it’s a family emergency or health issue, it’s kind of pathetic. It’s hard to feel sympathy for someone who willingly signed up for an opportunity, taking the spot of someone who might have crushed it, and then chooses to squander it.
But “Drag Race” is different. The men competing on this series all have one thing in common: They grew up at a time when men dressing up as woman was not acceptable. Many of them have been shunned by family, publicly ostracized, or worse. Knowing their passion and art were something few people would understand or support, these queens grew up as outcasts. Those memories and feelings, as for all of us, are hard to push down and forget.
Though “Drag Race” is ultimately a competition, these queens are all part of the same tribe. Zap2it has interviewed so many queens from the series, and win or lose, they all express what a blessing it is to be surrounded by like-minded people who understand and love them. It’s this camaraderie that makes Adore’s exit more heartbreaking than anything else, for RuPaul and for the rest of us.
Mama Ru, never one to mince words, met Adore’s final tearful goodbye with nothing but love and compassion. He saw right through to her real problem. Adore isn’t just a quitter, there were deeper demons in play. That crippling feeling of being an outcast, something which continues to haunt many of us into adult life, had taken over. Adore couldn’t feel safe or comfortable with who she is, even in the middle of her tribe, and that led to a meltdown. She needed to go home and regroup.
Judge Michelle Visage’s comments to Adore were harsh, but characteristically so. This is “All Stars,” a competition on a higher level of seasoned, professional drag queens. Among the best of the best, critiques can feel a lot more nit-picky, because the level of talent is already so high. Adore is already a star. She had a bad week and got called out it for it, and doesn’t seem to shelter much resentment about the process.
RuPaul created this show to bring this community together, and to help the world accept and understand drag. He’s not there to tear anybody down. There’s too much of that in the daily world as it is! The shade thrown on “Drag Race” is part of the game, not part of that negativity. Being able to give a good read in which both parties in play can laugh is an art, a key characteristic of drag. Making someone feel awful, alone and worthless, is not.
What happened tonight on “Drag Race” is a shining example of the changes we can make and the healing we can do, whenever fear is met with love instead of hate. Adore was obviously going through a terrible time, and Ru took the opportunity to help her look at those demons, and teach us all in the process. Though it didn’t click instantly for Adore, we saw, it’s good to remember that this series was filmed over a year ago: Miss Delano is back at the top of her game, now, and thriving.
The situation was hard to watch unfold — but the show must go on, and the competition will do so. Now, with eight contestants who can handle the pressure, and a good look at what happens when you can’t.
“Drag Race: All Stars” airs on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Logo & VH1.