1 New York’s “TV Issue” examined America’s appetite for RuPaul’s Drag Race — and the culture it has ushered into the mainstream — and included a ranking of the 100 most powerful alums (“America Has a New National Pastime,” June 10–23). Naturally, the drag queens sounded off, especially about the 37 covers, shot by award-winning photographer Martin Schoeller. Laganja Estranja tweeted, “I am so honored to be one of the 37 SICKENING drag queen covers.” Even queens who weren’t featured created their own mock covers, including fan favorite Vanessa Vanjie Mateo. Some queens spoofed the covers, including Thorgy Thor, who posted on Instagram, “They were a little late getting me my cover photo, but I look great! #honored.” And many others turned the cover into a meme, with the Instagram “cat drag queen” @rupaws_drag_race posting, “So honored to pretend to be on my own cover of @nymag! If I could look back at myself as a little kitten I would say, ‘You gotta make your own luck/cover baby girl! Cuz ain’t nobody gonna make it for you!’” The power ranking was limited to former Drag Race contestants, which upset some readers who’d hoped to see trailblazers who preceded the show. April Kidwell wrote, “Leaving off legends like Miss Coco Peru, Lady Bunny, Jackie Beat, Varla Jean Merman, Peaches Christ, and Heklina makes it very clear that you know nothing about drag except what’s trending on TV.” However, @mattrett wrote, “Some on social media are mad they dared to rank them … have you not seen ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ which ranks drag queens every season?” Former Drag Race contestant Honey Davenport tweeted, “I love watching queens who have been celebrated for years get upset over a magazine celebrating others … Meanwhile let’s just forget a big magazine acknowledged drag. For that I am nothing but thankful.” Some took issue with Schoeller’s photography: Nick Endicott responded, “[Schoeller’s] work may be compelling, but it is a known fact in the drag community that good lighting is an important part of the ‘illusion.’ Many of these photos are obviously unflattering, and it is a huge sign of disrespect to portray these hardworking and historically disenfranchised performers in such an oddly undignified way.” And Ginger Minj, another cover subject, wrote, “I’m very grateful for this cover, but I am equally turned off by the ‘rankings’ in the article, the mugshots (and potshots) that accompany said article and the fact that no legendary queens outside of RPDR were included.” Crystal Lubrikunt reflected, “Schoeller is a legend so I think they were looking to capture the honest rawness … plenty of polished images out there of the gals. It’s nice to have a raw moment.”
2 Kerry Howley profiled the long-shot presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, whose atypical upbringing sheds light on her heterodox political views (“Tulsi Gabbard Had a Very Strange Childhood,” June 10–23). BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray called the story “a pretty big step forward in understanding what Gabbard’s all about.” The independent journalist Michael Tracey tweeted, “This is the first appropriately probing, but perceptive and empathetic, profile of Tulsi Gabbard that has been published in the mainstream press … I see some Tulsi supporters are upset about the piece. I can understand why. But if you’re a presidential candidate, you have to expect that your background is going to be scrutinized.” Some readers thought the story was too charitable to Gabbard: “This piece is wildly fascinating,” Steve Morris tweeted, “but … nowhere is it mentioned she voted against condemning Assad’s war crimes or that she denied his responsibility for a chemical weapons attack.” On the issue of Gabbard’s religious identity, Mat McDermott of the Hindu American Foundation responded, “There is no formal ‘conversion’ process for those not born into a Hindu family. Simply self-identifying as Hindu is all that is required. If Tulsi considers herself Hindu today and lives by the Bhagavad Gita as she does, she is Hindu. Period. Questioning this identification implies both that she’s really not who she says she is and belittles her as somehow not really being Hindu.”
*This article appears in the June 24 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!