Drag Race legends detail the disgusting racist abuse and death threats they receive simply for being Black
Black Drag Race queens have detailed the abhorrent racist behaviour they have endured from so-called fans, with a number admitting they have received death threats because of the colour of their skin.
Warning: contains graphic threats of racist violence.
Mayhem Miller and Kennedy Davenport are among the queens to discuss their experiences in a frank short video, The Reality of Race in Drag, shared by Honey Davenport on Instagram.
“Upon being announced as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I received 30 messages calling me [a bleeped racial slur],” says Honey, who appeared on season 11.
“I received tonnes of messages, comments in my [Instagram] Lives, asking me to kill myself.”
Mayhem Miller says that until appearing on the show, she had “never had a fan – or someone posing as a fan – write me and just call me flat out a [bleeped].”
“I’ve had fans ask me why I wasn’t dead yet,” adds Kennedy Davenport. Ra’Jah O’Hara, another season 11 queen, echoes this by saying that she had been told “I should kill myself, that I should be hung from a tree, that I should be gutted like an animal”.
At one point, a screenshot shows a direct message to Chi Chi DeVayne threatening to throw acid in her face, and warning her to “get ready for the next massive [sic] shooting”.
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As artists and performers, all we want to do is create; all we want to do is spread love. Unfortunately, the reality of our reality television experience is that the “fandom” of the show can be toxic at times. My sisters and myself have received countless letters of hate and death threats since our appearance on television. Listen and watch as a few of my POC sisters and I share our stories, along side some of our allies who are also demanding that this treatment of queens who are not white ends now. I am forever grateful for the experience RPDR provided me and I remain a viewer and avid fan to this day. My hope though is that one day the fan base learns to treat me and ALL of my sisters, regardless of race, with the love and respect we all equally deserve.
Kahanna Montrese points out that “it’s very evident within the fandom that there’s this hierarchy of queens – and of course Caucasians are at the top of that list, POC come right at the bottom”.
A number of white queens also appear in the video to stand in solidarity with their Black and POC sisters.
Speaking alongside Gigi Goode, Trinity the Tuck, Laila McQueen, Milk and Miz Cracker, Detox calls out what she says is both “one of the most amazing fanbases” and “one of the most toxic”.
“The hate and racism being levelled against my Black brothers and sisters is absolutely disgusting and must stop now,” says Nina West.
Chinese-American queen Yuhua Hamasaki adds: “We are all just human beings.”
Sharing the video, Honey wrote: “I am forever grateful for the experience RPDR provided me and I remain a viewer and avid fan to this day.
“My hope though is that one day the fan base learns to treat me and ALL of my sisters, regardless of race, with the love and respect we all equally deserve.”
Drag Race has a big racism problem.
Black queens and other queens of colour have long spoken out about the racist treatment they receive after appearing on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
BeBe Zahara Benet, the show’s first-ever winner, told PinkNews earlier this year how “unfortunate” it is “that a show that has catapulted so many queer entertainers of colour into the spotlight gets tarnished by these so-called fans, who tear down one another and entertainers because of their race”.
She and many other queens have pointed out that the issue isn’t limited to overt racism and abuse, it is also evident in the amount of opportunities they are afforded after the show compared to white queens, and in the lesser popularity that many Black queens enjoy.
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Black queens often have smaller followings than their white counterparts, as Bob the Drag Queen pointed in June 2018. At the time, RuPaul was the only Black queen to have more than 1 million Instagram followers. This is no longer the case, but a disparity remains.
Drag Race’s racism issue is far from a new one, but after the murder of George Floyd galvanised the Black Lives Matter movement, prompting an unprecedented global discussion about racism, the show’s official Twitter account made a rare intervention, condemning racism and defending its Black contestants.
— RuPaul's Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) June 12, 2020
It has not made any further public announcements on what actions it plans to take.