Six Black queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race are urging an end to the toxic racism present within the show’s fandom.
Heidi N Closet, Latrice Royale, Mayhem Miller, Widow Von’Du, The Vixen, and Mariah Paris Balenciaga all star in the PSA, which was released by the official Drag Race YouTube channel and features the queens out of drag, filmed in black and white, and directly addressing the camera.
After introducing themselves using their real names, with the exception of Mariah, the queens discuss their relationships, their hobbies, and other things beyond their public personas, such as Dequan (Mayhem) enjoying pineapple on pizza, and Tony (Vixen) having ten brothers and sisters.
“I am someone who has experienced injustice and racism at a very young age firsthand,” Trevien (Heidi) then says. “And even though I’ve endured those things, I still tried to look at the positives and look at the good in people, and in the world as a whole.”
The video then cuts between the queens as they deliver the central message: “Why I telling you this? Because it matters. Because as much as I love Drag Race, as most of you all, behind the makeup, underneath the eleganza, is a human being just like you.
“We need to collectively stop the threats, stop the racism that is affecting this community. So make a pledge to be better, and treat us like the human beings that we are. Pledge to spread joy and kindness to all of us.
“Your words have power. Let’s use them for good. Let’s do this for real. And make RuPaul’s Drag Race the example.”
Drag Race has long faced criticism for the way queens of color are treated, particularly Black queens, both on the show and by the show’s fans.
Season 12 star Widow Von’Du announced last month that she was intending to take a break from drag and being in the public eye due to the toxicity she had experienced on social media.
Thank you to the ‘fandom’ of Drag Race!” she wrote on Twitter. “You did it! You ran another person of color away from what they love! I try to be strong but y’all done made me feel like I should hate myself and guess what you won!
“You make me feel like I should have just stayed a Kansas City queen!” she continued. “I hate doing this so much and I don’t wanna do this anymore!”
Season 12 winner Jaida Essence Hall responded to Von’Du’s announcement, calling out “hateful people” for making life so hard for some of the queens.
“It’s crazy the level of talent that this past season has had and it’s impact during the pandemic was so major, yet there are girls from our season ready to step away from all of this because some of you hateful people,” she wrote on Twitter. “I pray the universe doesn’t pay y’all back what some of y’all give out because y’all are going to be I’m a terrible place.
“If you’re upset with your life, fix it don’t bring that mess to people who are just trying to live there best life and have given so much last year it this year,” she continued. “My heart is breaking for my sisters smh.”
Earlier this year, season 10 finalist Asia O’Hara moderated an Entertainment Weekly panel with five Black title winners of Drag Race, including Hall, Heidi N Closet (the reigning Miss Congeniality), season 11 winner Yvie Oddly, All Stars 4 winner Monét X Change, and All Stars 5 winner Shea Couleé.
They discussed the recent focus on Black excellence in season 12 and All Stars 5, as well as racism and representation in Drag Race.
“Representation is a harder concept to digest because it’s kind of blind, it’s abstract, it’s something where identity shouldn’t matter as much because identity isn’t holding you back, and, unfortunately, our history as a country has been the exact opposite,” Oddly said.
“If we could help promote the embracing of other people’s identities without needing to focus on them, it would be amazing. So far, we’re on step one, which is a good step, but acknowledging that not everybody has the same opportunities and rights to life [is key].”
“I feel like there’s not a single Black queen who hasn’t experienced a racial situation,” Hall said. “A lot of the time people will pit our art against other artists about our race, and I don’t feel like there’s ever a place where our art should equal the color of our skin or who we are as a person and how we live our life. If art is good, then it’s good.”
She added: “Eventually when you continue to be yourself and continue to do excellence, people will have no choice but to stop being a hater and hopefully turn the tide and come to love you!”
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