Tyra reigns over “The Gay Kingdom”


Tyra Banks moderates the discussion of "The Gay Kingdom." Photo is a screen cap from The Tyra Show.

Tyra Banks moderates the discussion of "The Gay Kingdom." Photo is a screen cap from The Tyra Show.

As I first saw on AfterEllen.com, on Tyra Banks’ talk show on April 27, she created what she called “The Gay Kingdom,” which included participants with following identities from the queer community: butch gay man, transwoman, butch lesbian, drag queen, feminine gay man, bisexual man and lipstick lesbian. (There’s a little bit overrepresentation of men or people who at some point identified as male.) They had to place themselves in a social hierarchy for some reason. I still don’t know what that reason is, but when it comes to talk shows, does it really matter what the motivation is?

Anyway, The Tyra Show is notorious for these so-called social experiments that are just so close to real life it is scary (But seriously, most of the time they are hilarious or sickening – and sometimes a mixture of both). So in order to keep this experiment as close to feudal existence as possible, the participants had to assign each other one of the following roles: king, queen, pauper, jester, cook, villain and concubine. That last one is defined as a women who lives with a man premaritally, so you know, that definitely applies to gay people.

So who got what role? The butch gay man was voted king; the lipstick lesbian was voted queen; the bisexual man was voted pauper;  the drag queen was voted jester; the feminine gay man was voted cook; the butch lesbian was voted villain;  the transwoman was voted concubine.

While I still think most of what is on Tyra’s show was thought up by dumbasses, the experiment does indicate who has the highest status in the real world (And that would be the 21st century, not the 14th). A gender-conforming queer person receives a higher status than a gender non-comforming queer, so no wonder the masculine gay man and lipstick lesbian were king and queen. Transwomen are seen as prostitutes or as promiscuous, so of course she was the concubine. The drag queen was the jester because she entertains, but one of the participants went so far as to liken her to a clown. The feminine gay man was elected to do women’s work as the cook. And of course the butch lesbian is the villain: She has played that role in just about every writing about lesbians ever made, that is up until lesbians themselves began writing their own stories.

The problem was, Tyra didn’t really explain all of that. Maybe if she had, her experiment may have made a little bit more sense. Instead it looked like a freak show that she brought on to her court just to entertain Queen Tyra herself.

There are several parts to this episode of The Tyra Show.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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4 thoughts on “Tyra reigns over “The Gay Kingdom”

  1. Tyra, Tyra, Tyra… So much to unpack here and such potential for great learning through the deconstruction of these internalized oppresive norms. Unfortunately, we get none of that. Maybe next time tyty.

    Thanks for posting!

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