Aaron Cody aka ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 4 winner Sharon Needles is quickly finding out how sensitive people are even when he’s on their side. Needles apologized to protester’s incensed by the use of the ‘N’ word in her show, but that wasn’t enough for them.
Anyone who watched Season 4 of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race‘ knew that Sharon Needles had a touch of the controversy magnet in her, but now that she’s won, she’s quickly learning how sensitive people have gotten and how censorship still wins out even among those who claim to fight for it. Needles is definitely one of the most memorable winners of the show, and she’s actually becoming the most outspoken one…but on her terms. I think that’s a good thing since rather than do the usual pick a good safe cause and support it when it provides the best photo opps, Needles is able to incorporate her message into her shows. Naturally, that’s going to ruffle some feathers, but it seems that a small contingent have crowed the loudest forcing the performer to censor her show for them. I personally love her for shaking us out of what is comfortable (ala Louis C.K.) and shoving some dark aspects of society in our faces.
Needles has unabashedly used the word ‘nigger’ which can still serves as quite the lightning rod, but as Aaron Cody said out of Sharon Needles costume, “If people educated themselves on the type of work and didn’t just judge it by my costume choices and simple screen shots and really investigated why I use the imagery I use, I’m really more on their side than they think.” He met with LGBT activists who have been angered by his use of the word ‘nigger’ in his show. Cody said that he would take the word out of his Needles show, but for protest organizers Enakai Ciseaux and Maura Ciseaux that just wasn’t enough. For me, I find this offensive because these people will be the first to cry censorship if someone doesn’t like what they say and tells them to stop. These are the people in my community that really frustrate me. As a black man who performs as a black woman, I think what Sharon Needles is doing is empowering rather than disempowering.
Right now, we’ve got so many things going on in the world where our rights are still under attack, but yet these two people within our community are working to polarize it. They’ll blame Sharon Needles for doing it, but they’re the one who are raising a stink, demanding for the show to be censored to their liking, and then walk out of a meeting still not satisfied. This is why so many times in the GLBT community things fall apart. Everyone winds up putting in their own personal agendas and then foisting it upon everyone. What more do you want. And like with anything, if you don’t like what you hear, turn off the tv or don’t go to the show! It’s as simple as that.
We know live in a society that jumps on words without finding out the ‘intention’ behind those words. That’s where the problem lies. Sometimes these groups raise a stink to get publicity going after someone who’s a public figure (since that raises awareness and money for their cause) or sometimes it just plain ignorance. Someone like Sharon Needles doesn’t come along everyday to deliver strong messages while entertaining, but these types of people who will never be satisfied will make sure that the future Sharon Needles of the world will remain silent. In the 80′s the term ‘Silence Equals Death’ meant something, and people like Larry Kramer got in our faces, made people uncomfortable by speaking the truth, but oh what a difference he made to our community. Sadly, people like Enakai Ciseaux and Maura Ciseaux seem to be more than happy to force silence for their own agendas.
“Sharon is an example of current social anxieties who is designed wholeheartedly to put government, to question, mocks concept of wealth… We also do things that question power of language,” Coady said. “Basically in creating juxtaposition between intent and language. A lot of things Sharon tries to do is try to mock these things [people] really are afraid of and mock these things that control our society…and try to put a comedic twist to it. But I understand it is not designed for everyone or isn’t consumed way that I want it to,” Coady said. “I definitely understand how it can be misinterpreted. Sometimes I don’t even trust my own work. Sometimes I not sure which direction and am constantly growing and evolving.”
What I also found interesting and so proud of Needles was that she refused to be bullied. One of her stances is against bullying, and the fact that she stood up to two obvious bullies in the form of Enakai and Maura Ciseauz seems to have made them storm out of the meeting. This shows their type of caliber when they can’t hold their own in a debate and walk out when they don’t get their way. These are the that hurt our community, but I would never tell them to shut up because that’s the beauty of free speech in our country. If you don’t like what you hear, either educate or don’t listen, don’t try to become a fascist bully and silence others. We’ve had enough of that in our history.
Sharon spoke with NewNowNext and had this to say about the Atlanta meeting. “I was barked at and told what I can and cannot do as a human being and an entertainer. My act is meant to take dark issues and bring them into the spotlight. What’s more, I want to give everyone who comes to see me a great experience where we can poke fun at things and laugh at social anxieties. I mean, have you seen the first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race? My shows aren’t for everyone and if that’s not evident I don’t know what is.”
Thankfully, she’s not giving in to the bullies in the GLBT community and will continue with her act uncensored. “At the end of the day, I have to remember the wise words a very famous African American philosopher once said; ‘What other people think of me ain’t none of my goddamn business.’ That philosopher happens to be RuPaul, Cody ended her interview stating.” I say, good for her and keep doing what you do since most performers in the GLBT community wouldn’t use this platform in such a way. So bravo Sharon Needles, and I have so much more respect for you to stand by your guns and not let a couple bad apples in the GLBT community spoil your show and message.