It’s taken 12 years for Drag Race to crown a trans queen in the US – and for Kylie Sonique Love, the wait was worthwhile.
The season two queen returned to the werk room for the sixth run of Drag Race All Stars, where she was one of two out trans competitors (along with Jiggly Caliente).
That in itself was historic – it took a long time for Drag Race to begin embracing the trans community, with Peppermint’s run in season nine marking a turning point for the show.
Gia Gunn came after her on All Stars 4, Gottmik was the first trans man to compete in season 13, and there have been a number of non-binary performers as well as trans queens who’ve come out after their time on the show was done. Drag Race Thailand crowned a trans woman, Angele Anang, in its second season.
But All Stars 6 marked the first time more than one out trans women competed against one another in the American franchise – something Kylie said helped her feel that her inclusion wasn’t tokenistic.
“Because I didn’t want to be tokenised at all,” she told them. “I’m a proud trans woman but on Drag Race I’m a fierce queen first.”
Kylie was gracious when commenting on the show’s slow progress on inclusion.
“It’s a novelty when it comes to Drag Race because there wasn’t a lot of explicit trans representation on the show,” she said.
“For the past 11 years we’ve been educating the mainstream about drag and that has led up to finally introducing more out trans people on the show. I get it. When you throw everything out at one time it can be confusing.
“Even as a person that’s part of the LGBT community there have been certain concepts the past few years that confuse me. Again, I’m old school. And when someone doesn’t get it right immediately, people get hurt and offended. I think we were less hurt and offended back in the day.”
Winning All Stars isn’t just vindication for Kylie, it’s also a much-needed platform.
She admitted in the interview that she’s been a “struggling drag queen living paycheck to paycheck”. Now, with her $100,000 winnings and a bright spotlight on her talent, she’s ready to live life on her terms.
“There was a little bit more pressure a long time ago, because if you were trans and you wanted to live your life as a woman you needed to fucking look like society’s idea of a woman,” Kylie told them. “That’s the way the world was. But now what kind of woman you want to look like — that’s up to you.”
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