RuPaul Charles is probably feeling a little fortunate that he gets to stay out of the public eye this week. The beloved host of reality competition series RuPaul’s Drag Race is facing some controversy from a small segment of his fanbase after the casual revelation that he leases some of his Wyoming land to energy companies.
‘A Modern Ranch’
In an interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, RuPaul spoke fondly of his patch of land in Wyoming and South Dakota. In between seasons of Drag Race, RuPaul and his husband spend time on 60,000 acres of land. Though the retreat is something of a getaway, that hasn’t stopped the enterprising Emmy winner from putting the property to use.
As RuPaul explained:
“[A] modern ranch, 21st century ranch, is really land management. It is – you lease the mineral rights to oil companies. And you sell water to oil companies. And then you lease the grazing rights to different ranchers. So it’s land management.”
Of course, for most landowners, or members of the oil and gas industry, those comments come across as rather innocuous. Unfortunately, a small segment of RuPaul’s fanbase took umbrage.
Social Media Backlash
On social media site Reddit, a few angry viewers took to the RuPaul’s Drag Race subreddit to vent their concern. A handful of people said they had completely changed their opinion of the drag icon. Others expressed dismay.
The uproar was so pronounced that outlets from Variety to The Guardian printed articles in which they insinuated — or outright stated — that RuPaul Charles was a hypocrite, that he was the owner of a “fracking empire” on his land. A Vulture article dramatically proclaimed, “Amid *Waves Hands* All This, RuPaul May Be Fracking.”
Calm Down, Folks
In the days since RuPaul’s comments were dragged into the spotlight, his name has been connected with fracking time and again. All this despite the fact RuPaul never actually said the word. He said he leased his land (as was his legal right as a landowner). And mention of a “fracking empire” is sensationalism at its best.
Since the comments were blown out of proportion, the TV personality has stayed mum on the topic. Instead, he has chosen to pursue his favorite subject — the one that consumed the majority of the NPR interview. That of self-love, self-reflection, and adaptation.
As RuPaul says, “In this life if you can stay flexible, you have a really good chance of navigating a really rich experience for yourself on this planet.”
Perhaps some of his former fans would do well to take that advice.