RuPaul’s Drag Race: from camp curio to the very best reality show there is

With sassy stars, the supermodel of the world and quite heroic levels of innuendo, its the show that maintains on dedicating and get more divine by the year

It cant have escaped your notice that everything is awful at the moment. In hours like those we seem to be stuck in, reaching for a consolation blanket of some kind is understandable. For me, that entails TV. The Goldbergs, The Last Leg, anything starring otters and most of all, RuPauls Drag Race.

Its staggering be recognised that, with this weekends grand finale, Drag Race will conclude its ninth series especially as UK spectators have only just got( legal) access to new episodes via Netflix. The lag hasnt stopped them maintaining up: around the globe, this series has steadily gone from camp curio to the best reality show around, hands down.

For the uninitiated, Drag Race is the search for Americas Next Drag Superstar. Mentored by the self-styled supermodel of the world, drag performers from across the US compete in a series of creative challenges from making their own political campaign cinemas and creating fairytale alter-egos, to hosting breakfast TV and the infamous Snatch Game( Blankety Blank with celebrity dress-up ). After a final catwalk showdown every week, the bottom two queens are required to lip-sync for their life, before RuPaul gently informs the loser to sashay away. Ask most drag performers over here and they will likely claim to be in talks for the UK version despite the fact its not actually been commissioned yet.

The library is open! RuPaul with Lady Gaga on Drag Race. Photograph: Logotv

Among Drag Races many accomplishments, bringing drag subculture into the mainstream( the library is open !) is up there, along with casting the spotlight on Rus longtime sidekick and judge, the divinely sassy Jersey Girl Michelle Visage. And then there are the quite heroic high levels of innuendo. Even I gulped at the mini challenge last year, in which the queens were required to identify the bunk predilections of the proves pit crew( a man-candyish parade of West Hollywoods finest, oiled up in their Speedos) by sending them to lie on the top or bottom levels of a giant bunk bed. Competitors are also asked to display their Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent credentials( you work out the acronym ). And there is no shortage of healthy shade-throwing; catfights are an entertaining constant, though always with RuPauls own proverb in intellect hurling shade requires a lot of imagination. Being a bitch takes none. Because aside from being the best and the funniest reality show out there, Drag Race is also without a doubt the one with the biggest heart.

Some of the presents best moments come in the work room, when defenses are down, shade is reserved and the queens start to open up. They bond over stories of body dysmorphia, bully, parental rejection, self-loathing honest to the last, but never victims. In the semi-final Ru informs the queens to give a message to their childhood selves and you cant assist but well up. Where reality judges lapse easily into cruelty, the sense that the mentor here cares profoundly for these people is palpable.

Who will be crowned Americas Next Drag Superstar? Photograph: Logotv

For the grand finale, the prove gets transposed into a glitzy theater for a gigantic prom celebration, reuniting past and present contestants. The four finalists Ru chose to eliminate nobody in the semi have one last chance to fight for the titles of Miss Congeniality and Americas Next Drag Superstar. Psychedelic Chicago queen Shea Coule is probably the frontrunner based on past performances. Pageant Queen Trinity Taylor has exceptional comic timing but has proved one of the bitchiest in the cutaway narration segments. Peppermint the apple-pie Americas Sweetheart was impressive during the course of its comedy roasted of Visage, and has inspired viewers by revealing her trans status from the off. Sasha Velour brings avant-garde-club-kid realness but sometimes misses the mark in her mission to intellectualise drag.

The Drag Race finale drops-off in the UK at a high watermark for faggot programming. As well as falling in Pride month, it coincides with Channel 4s 50 Shades of Gay season and the BBCs Gay Britannia, both marking the half-century since male homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK. But as proudly as it celebrates queer identity, this is not an exclusively lesbian demonstrate. At its heart, Drag Race preaches a very simple message of tolerance and understanding with glisten and flair and RuPauls weekly life-lesson of a sign-off: If you cant love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love someone else? Amen to that.

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An 11-year-old wrote a rap about being bullied. His favorite rapper brought it to life.

11-year-old Isaac wrote a rap about being bullied. Too disconcerted to perform it, he sent it to his favorite rapper for help.

Mac Lethal, a Kansas City rapper best known for his super-fast delivery and the best breakfast anthem of all time, set Isaac’s rap over a beat and made a video of the powerful letter.

Image via Mac Lethal/ YouTube.

Isaac’s story of bullying is heartbreaking and familiar.

Isaac and another kid named Thomas used to be great friends riding motorcycles, swimming, and playing video games together. Now, Thomas won’t stop physically and verbally tormenting him.

Isaac holds trying to reconnect with his old friend, and he even let Thomas copy his math run. But he took advantage of Isaac’s kindness.

Photo by Frederic J. Brown/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Bullying is not “just a part of growing up, ” and it’s not OK. Kids need to know they’re not alone.

Whether you’re a well-known rapper, mother, lecturer, coach, or just a concerned adult, connect with local schools and community partners that work with kids and families to create a culture of kindness. When we stand together, we can improve our schools and communities.

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How one high school in Utah is teaching kids an invaluable lesson about community service.

For one week each year, the students and staff of Juan Diego Catholic High School don’t show up to the campus at all.

It’s not a vacation, and it’s not a school trip.

They’re spending the week volunteering with an organisation of their choice as part of a service program made to teach kids about community, hard work, and the value of helping those in need.

Juan Diego Catholic High School. Photo via Sydney Barnes/ YouTube.

Juan Diego is depicting firsthand the value of service for students and the community.

Over 200 seniors at the school choose to expend a week volunteering at one of the 27 service agencies involved in the program all of which are organizations that assistance serve marginalized communities.

“We have everything from students going to the Utah AIDS Foundation and dealing with HIV prevention and awareness to Saint Vincent de Paul soup kitchen, ” Director of Campus Life Dave Brunetti says over the phone.

Photo courtesy of Mickelle Marston/ Juan Diego Catholic High School. Used with permission.

While volunteering, students get experience with real service run, and they help uplift the community and themselves in the process.

“Our school’s motto is Spiritus Donorum, which translates to ‘the spirit of devoting, ‘” tells Brunetti, adding that schools don’t often give their students a vantage point to think about marginalized communities, let alone a specific opportunity to help them.

Photo courtesy of Mickelle Marston/ Juan Diego Catholic High School. Employed with permission.

“When you put a student in an intensive week such as this, our experience has been that it is completely transformative, ” he continues.

While community service is a standard high school extracurricular, Juan Diego approaches it a little differently.

“It goes beyond volunteering, ” says Brunetti. Since the program is about helping marginalized communities like the homeless, it offer one-of-a-kind learning opportunities. “When you are the person assisting[ a homeless woman] coming in and get food for her and her children, it changes the route you look at things.”

Photo courtesy of Mickelle Marston/ Juan Diego Catholic High School. Used with permission.

While anyone in high school can volunteer to fill out an obligatory requirement or college prerequisite, building the program this way ensures that students go face to face with people less fortunate than them.

“It’s eye-opening and it will benefit everyone, ” Apiak Gai, a student at the school, told news station Good 4 Utah. “I’m learning that not everyone is the same and not everyone has the same opportunities. We shouldn’t shut them out; we should give them a helping hand.”

The school also believes that service is essential to a well-rounded education.

“If we just graduate student that are smart but we dont give them a sense of compassion and empathy about how to show up in the real world, then we have totally ripped them off, ” tells Brunetti.

Photo courtesy of Mickelle Marston/ Juan Diego Catholic High School. Used with permission.

While there aren’t many schools that construct volunteering and community service immediately into their curriculum, perhaps there should be .

As the Corporation for National& Community Service notes, volunteering can be incredibly beneficial to your community and even your health. One survey found that volunteering led to improvements in staman, memory, and high levels of depression. And if you volunteer once, you’re more likely to do it again, according to another analyse( PDF ).

Most of all, though, Juan Diego’s service program is about creating a better world for all of us.

Photo courtesy of Mickelle Marston/ Juan Diego Catholic High School. Use with permission.

Juan Diego Catholic High School has committed to service not just because it helps teach their students unique lessons, but because it uplifts their entire community, helps offer a more well-rounded education, and goes a long way toward making the world a better, more altruistic place.

“When you give them the opportunity to step up, there are some wonderful, wonderful students that are just waiting to become responsible, contributing adults, ” tells Brunetti.

“And that’s the reason I do what I do.”

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How one teacher’s aquarium dream made science at this Texas school 10 times cooler.

What do you do if you’re an awesome science teacher and you want your kids to learn about water animals but don’t have water nearby?

That’s what James Jubran was up against as an aquatic science educator at Alief Elsik High School in Houston, Texas.

“We dont have the ability to go to lagoons, rivers, oceans or creeks, ” Jubran explains. The nearest big body of water is Trinity Bay, which is an hour away . Big field trips like that cost money, and the school doesn’t have the funding to attain them feasible .

Elsik is far from being the only school with this problem. Schools nationwide are dealing with massive budget cuts to their STEM programs( science, technology, education, and mathematics ). That’s a big obstacle for students looking to have careers in any of these fields.

Thankfully aquatic science fanatics at Elsik have Jubran grant writer extraordinaire.

Jubran with some of his students. All photos via Elsik High School, used with permission.

Jubran grew up in Florida surrounded by the ocean, and he was always fascinated by underwater ecosystems. He often went out on boats with his family, and he never missed an opportunity to go snorkeling or scuba diving.

He became a science teacher in Florida 10 years ago, but due to statewide school budget cuts, he lost his chore and decided to move inland to Houston, Texas, in 2006. He’s been at Elsik for five years but has always felt somewhat limited by the lack of access to water.

So in 2016, he wrote a award proposal for State Farm’s Neighborhood Assist Program asking for help in constructing a gigantic aquarium for Elsik students as well as students at other nearby schools.

State Farm accepted the first 2,000 applicants for the grant, and narrowed that number down to 200. Those proposals were then made public so that people could vote on their favorites. Elsik students stimulated it their mission to vote as much as possible.

The top 40 proposals received $25,000. The grant Jubran wrote came in at# 8.

State Farm grant dispatchers and members of the school board.

Jubran immediately began pulling resources to build his dream aquarium, and within a couple months, it was finished.

The aquarium is 12 feet long, 9 feet tall, and 3 feet broad and can hold 1,100 gallons of water.

He decided to create a tropical ecosystem in the tank, home to all kinds of tropical fish. The aquatic residents were added slowly to the tank in order to build up good bacteria, which allows the tank to better manage fish waste. The slow process also helps make sure the fish all get along.

Today, there are 14 different species of fish living in the tank. They include threadfin geophagus, known for their digging abilities, Silver arowana, who are capable of grow to two feet long, carnivorous tiger oscars, shovelnose catfish, which look like their name sounds, and Redhooks the vegetarian version of piranhas.

A few redhooks in Elsik’s new aquarium.

The tank is located in the school cafeteria so that all of the students can enjoy it and, well, because it was too big to put upstairs near Jubran’s classroom.

The aquarium’s been in place for two months now, and everyone seems to love it and all its colorful inhabitants.

Threadfin geophaguses hanging out together.

Students are often considered pressed up against the glass watching the fish swimming around and interact with one another.

Jubran doesn’t love the thousands of fingerprints on the glass, but he appreciates the exuberance. He even has children he’s never met before coming up to him saying things like, oh, are you the guy who constructed the aquarium? Its so cool.”

I don’t know about that guy in the middle. He looks pretty fishy to me. HEYO!

And Jubran’s students, especially the ones interested in aquatic science careers, can’t get enough. Even though it’s the end of the school year, he’s begun assigning special teaching projects on species in the aquarium.

“Next year, students will learn everything they need to know about the fish, then develop and present a curriculum focused on the aquarium, ” Jubran says. That way, when students from other schools come by to check out the aquarium, Elsik students can actually teach them about what’s going on inside it.

And Jubran is not finished with his plans to bring water to Elsik he’s get even loftier schemes up his sleeve.

Jubran teaching his students about the aquarium.

“I’m going for a $100,000 award next year to build an even larger salt water aquarium for the other side of the school, ” Jubran says.

It might be four times as much as the previous grant, but considering his success at get that, there’s a very good chance he’ll be filling a larger aquarium with more exotic fish soon enough.

Jubran’s initiative just goes to show there’s enormous power behind one person’s desire to make a difference.

You don’t have to have a ton of money or a fancy upbringing to stimulate huge waves in your community. All you need to have is an idea and the tenacity to see it through .

One teacher can make a school a better, cooler place to learn and grow. As long as Jubran’s at Elsik, he’ll be working on exciting ways to do merely that.

If you want to find out more about Neighborhood Assist, and how it’s helping improve communities across the country, check out the program here.

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When comedians and puppets perform stories written by kids, the smiles are contagious.

In the world of Story Pirates, it’s not at all unusual to watch a play featuring a talking carrot on Saturn or flying cats.

That’s because the playwrights may seem a bit unconventional: They’re kids.

Story Pirates is an organization that pairs actors and comedians with stories written by young students . The results are fantastical productions that celebrate the power of imagination while also empowering children for a lifetime.

Check out their story: