In a 2016 Vulture interview, RuPaul Charles described feeling like an outsider in pop-culture who had never won an Emmy, or been on Ellen or The Tonight Show. Drag, RuPaul said at the time, "will never be mainstream," adding: “and listen, what you’re witnessing with drag is the most mainstream it will get.” As Pier Dominguez notes, things have changed dramatically in just four years. "Since then, RuPaul has been profiled everywhere from Vogue to the New York Times, feted on nearly every talk show, including Ellen and The Tonight Show," says Dominguez. "Drag Race has won 13 Emmys, and the show has become an inescapable cultural phenomenon. There is an entire universe built around the brand, including DragCon, where fans can bond with each other and meet some of the show’s biggest stars. There’s even a Drag Race Vegas residency with a revolving cast of former contestants from the series. The entire ecosystem depends on the show itself, and since its 2009 debut, the ratings have gotten bigger than ever. Arguably more important in the age of 'engagement,' its stan base is passionately invested and active on social media, making mega-influencers out of its stars." Dominguez adds: "Drag Race’s influence is now everywhere: from middle American network “lip sync battles” to James Charles’ Gen Z YouTube reality show Instant Influencer (which even included Drag Race alum Trixie Mattel as a guest judge). But even with a new audience and increased visibility, RuPaul still speaks directly to the queer audience. He has spoken out about a 'gay shame,' or the way 'Gay people will accept a straight pop star over a gay pop star, or they will accept a straight version of a gay thing, because there’s still so much self-loathing, you know?' And the show is almost like an antidote to that."