Drag Race star Mimi Imfurst ‘deeply sorry’ after sexual harassment allegations
RuPaul’s Drag Race star Mimi Imfurst has issued a public apology – after two fellow drag queens accused the performer of sexual harassment.
The Phliadelphia drag performer, real name Braden Chapman, faced public sexual harassment allegations from two performers starting out in the drag industry.
Chapman, who took part in the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, admitted they “made great mistakes that I am truly sorry for and humbled by”.
Kyle Ayotte, 25, and Ethan Hunter Raysor, 24, both told Philadelphia magazine that the performer had made “unwanted and repeated sexual advances” toward them over instant messaging.
The pair allege that they know of others who have had similar experiences, but that people are afraid to come forward due to Chapman’s strong presence in the local gay community, running the Philadelphia ‘Drag Wars’ contest.
Across a two-year conversation between Ayotte and Chapman, the magazine states that Chapman “initiated multiple sexual conversations” with Ayotte, who repeatedly expressed discomfort.
Ayotte, known by drag name Lorna Doom, told Philadelphia: “It was manipulation through guilt-tripping.
“Braden was preying on my inexperience in the drag scene to satisfy his sexual fetish to the point that I felt personally obligated to go through with it because I had dreams of becoming a professional drag performer.”
Raysor, drag name Lilith Del Ray, was allegedly propositioned by Chapman shortly before competing in the ‘Drag Wars’ contest.
He said: “I thought that if I did it that one time, he would just leave me alone afterwards.
“Braden told me that he could be able to compartmentalize his desires for me outside of the competition while still being able to be discreet.
“I wasn’t comfortable engaging with him in that manner again, and I tried to avoid suggestive conversations with him outside of the competition.”
Raysor briefly dated another person associated with Drag Wars, and told them Chapman’s conduct.
He added: “[Chapman] was upset and threw nasty insults about me… I sensed at that very moment my drag career would be over because I had just pissed off the most powerful drag queen in Philly.”
Raysor was subsequently eliminated from the contest after a scathing review from Chapman.
He alleges: “[Other contestants] told me not to say anything or Braden could have me blackballed in the Gayborhood.”
In a statement, Chapman admitted wrongdoing and attempted to apologise for his actions.
The performer wrote: “It has come to my attention that my sexual conversations via online messaging were uncomfortable for multiple people that I was engaging with.
“[With t]wo of those people, I have had ongoing late-night sexual conversations that involved in-depth and often exaggerated cyber roleplay that although was welcomed by some has made others uncomfortable and used. For that I am incredibly sorry.
“I thought that our conversation, which included sexual and nonsexual discussions, was consensual. I realise now that my intent to engage in a playful and welcomed conversation that I initiated did not have the impact on the them that I thought it did.”
The drag queen added: “I deeply regret that due to my nature as a public person, they felt pressured or obligated to partake in these conversations, one of which lasted over two years back and forth.
“I wish I had known more clearly that they did not want to participate in the conversations. If I would have known that, I would have stopped. I respect both Kyle and Ethan greatly and would never want to make them feel violated.
“I apologized to Ethan in October privately when this was first brought to my attention, and I now extend my apologies to others that I have hurt as well. I am not perfect. I have made great mistakes that I am truly sorry for and humbled by.
“I am incredibly sorry for this and can only work to be a better person and leader in Philadelphia. If anyone has issues I hope that they will speak to me privately so I can apologize to them directly.”