“RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Jinkx Monsoon doubled down on her denouncement of the Republican-led legislative push to restrict drag performances, in an interview that aired Friday on MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour With Stephanie Ruhle.”
“What I want to say to the people trying to oppress my community right now, is look what’s happened every time you’ve tried to oppress a community in America,” Monsoon told Ruhle. “You tried to oppress women, women got the vote. You tried to oppress people of color, we’re not accepting that anymore.”
She added, “We’re not accepting that some citizens just have to sit on the outside and be the outliers of our society, because that’s not what this country was supposedly founded on.”
Lawmakers in at least 16 states have so far this year proposed legislation that would restrict drag performances, according to an NBC News analysis. The majority of the bills would ban the performances in the presence of minors and fine repeat violators thousands of dollars. Some would ban the art form in public and would send repeat violators to prison.
This month, Tennessee became the first state to enact such legislation, banning “adult cabaret entertainment” on public property or in locations where it can be viewed by minors. Performers who violate the law more than once can be charged with a felony and sent to prison for up to six years.
Supporters argue that these measures are necessary to safeguard children against exposure to inappropriate entertainment.
Critics, like Monsoon, say these bills unfairly target the art form because of its deep ties to the LGBTQ community.
Monsoon, who is currently playing the role of Matron “Mama” Morton in Broadway’s “Chicago,” won season five of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and season seven of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.” She speculated that the recent wave of anti-drag legislation is a response to the “fear” of shifting gender norms in America.
“We have been conditioned to believe that there is a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to do things and that there’s a ‘natural’ and an ‘unnatural’ way to do things,” she said. “Imagine how infuriating that would be if you spent your whole life following the rules and then you were told those rules don’t actually exist.”
She added, “We should be being told that whatever works for you is natural and normal and right.”
Monsoon, who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns when not in drag, also addressed a controversial speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference this month, where a speaker said “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.” She said the speaker’s remark wasn’t actually what scared her most.
“What scares me more is the people who clapped for it,” she said.
When asked by Ruhle what her message is for LGBTQ people who are frightened amid this current political environment, Monsoon advised them to move to areas of the country where they can “find their community.”
“There are places where it’s safe to be queer, or a drag queen or trans at any age, and there are places in this country where it’s not,” Monsoon said. “I mean, they’re still debating whether we deserve to exist in certain parts of our country.”
“We need you with us to keep fighting for our freedoms and liberties and equalities,” she continued. “And if you have to move to a more metropolitan area, until the rest of the country catches up, you know, do what it takes to keep yourself safe and find your community so that you can live your life truthfully and unapologetically.”
To that, Ruhle replied, “Madame, you don’t just exist — you shine.”