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India Willoughby suggests drag queen of colour reclaiming racist slur is racist

Reiss Smith October 4, 2019
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Sum Ting Wong and India Willoughby

India Willoughby has called out Sum Ting Wong over her drag name. (BBC/Getty)

Journalist, TV personality and transgender woman India Willoughby has hit out at Drag Race UK queens Sum Ting Wong and Cheryl Hole over their drag names.

When Sum Ting Wong walked into the Drag Race UK werk room, she explained that her unusual name is “a reclamation for those little microaggressional racist digs that people give out”.

But for journalist India Willoughby, punny names such as hers and Cheryl Hole’s are “horrible”.

“[On] any other show, people would be screaming about demeaning women and racism,” Willoughby tweeted, suggesting that there was a “double standard” for drag queens.


The journalist, a regular on Good Morning Britain, is a vocal critic of drag, which she has controversially compared to blackface on more than one occasion.

“Drag is crude, misogynistic, and highly offensive to people who actually transition. But because it’s gay culture, it gets a free pass,” Willoughby told PinkNews.

“Can you imagine any other type of performer in 2019 getting away with using a name like Sum Ting Wong or Cheryl Hole? Their careers would be over.”

Refuting that drag can be “empowering,” Willoughby continued: “I’m sure the individuals performing drag aren’t doing it out of malice. I know one or two, and they are lovely people. But none the less, the concept is no better than blackface.”

Cheryl defended herself on Twitter, explaining that her name is “a pun on Cheryl Cole – someone who inspired [her] a hell of a lot”.

“Would you prefer it was Cheryl Mole, Pole, Troll, Soul, Bowl, LOL?” she asked.

“Drag is about bending the realms and parodying reality.”

After a follower shared a video of Willoughby at one of Cheryl’s Gals Aloud drag performances, the former Celebrity Big Brother contestant followed up by claiming that “drag literally makes [her] vom.”

“When I’m PM it’s getting banned,” she continued, explaining that she had attended the gig “unaware” that it would involve drag.

Sum Ting Wong explains drag name.

Ahead of the Drag Race UK premiere, Sum Ting Wong explained how she came up with her drag name.

“When I started doing drag five years ago, I wanted a name that was cheeky but also reflected my British Vietnamese heritage, so I browsed the internet and came across a meme about an American news report which turned out to be a prank,” she said.

“It was about a missing Asian plane and all the names of the missing crew were plays on Chinese names, such as Sum Ting Wong and Wi Tu Lo, and another was Ho Lee Fuk. It was wrong in so many ways, and that was why I chose my name, as my own act of reclamation.”

PinkNews has contacted Sum Ting Wong for further comment.

Related topics: Drag Race UK, India Willoughby, racism, Sum Ting Wong

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