It’s no secret that fandom can have a dark side, and that’s as true of the colorful, “everybody say love” world of RuPaul’s Drag Race as it is of anywhere else. In a new piece from Buzzfeed’s Ben Henry, four Black Drag Race alums—Latrice Royale (season 4, All Stars seasons 1 and 4), Tatianna (season 2, All Stars season 2), Silky Nutmeg Ganache (season 11), and Naomi Smalls (season 8, All Stars season 4)—open up about their experiences on and after the show. Specifically, they address their experiences with some segments of the Drag Race fandom, which can be harsh, abusive, and racist.
The entire piece is worth a read, but fittingly for a story about a show that specifically looks for “uniqueness” (as well as charisma, nerve, and talent), each of the four queens has a unique perspective on the experience and what it means. Particularly striking is Tatianna’s experience:
“I’ve had people tell me I’m awful, I should die, and that I’m worthless,” she says. “It definitely hurt and broke my spirit a little, but I learned trolls do it for a reaction.”
Interestingly, though, Tatianna claims that the audience didn’t know that she was black or mixed-race and instead assumed she was Latinx. “I’m not sure why that ended up being the case. I definitely talked about my background in confessionals and on-set but it never made it to the final cut,” she said. “I wish it was shown on the show though because I’m very proud of being black.” While she acknowledges that the lack of racist abuse directed at her was “definitely an example of white privilege,” the problem she faced was being dismissed for not being “black enough”.
Tatianna goes on to say that she believes that race has a decided effect on the success of the queens post-filming, though not during the competition: “It’s what comes after. How the audience views the queens. How clubs and promoters book the queens. The opportunities given to the queens. That’s where I’ve seen first hand where race comes into play.”
So hey, don’t be a racist asshole. The whole story is well worth a read, so click on through—if only for Henry’s all-caps transcription of Royale’s “Large and in charge, CHUNKY YET FUNKY!”