In honour of March being Women’s History Month, and in support of Trans women of colour around the world, YASS Magazine is hosting exclusively Gia Gunn. Apart from being a stong, famous trans woman of colour, Gia is one of the most popular contestants in RuPau’s Drag Race of all times. Let’s spill the tea then!
How do you feel with the fact that you are so much loved in the UK?
Oh my God! It is amazing! I have so much support all around the world, but I definitely haven’t had as much support since RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6 from anywhere else as I have had from the UK! We have always done shows in the UK, and they have always been such a success, not necessarily with the amount of people that have come, but with the amount of love we have received from the UK audience. The UK has always helped me and I am grateful with the fact that British people and G-A-Y funded the surgery I have had in October.
Is the UK audience different?
Yes, for sure! Every place has its own personality and types of people, but the UK has its own, unique audience. People in the UK are passionate and inspired by whatever we do and I have to admit that it is definitely the best audience I have ever performed to. The biggest thing that stands out the most is how excited British people get and how respectful they are in the meet and greet. They are very inspired, moved, appreciative and touched during our performance.
Do you feel a responsibility to use your platform and your fame to support queer and trans communities?
Of course! In 2019 we had so much visibility of trans people, but still not enough. There is so much work to be done. The work should for individuals such as myself to use their platform and their voice for those who do not have one.
Are trans women of colour underrepresented in the media industry?
Yes, 100%. I feel that women of colour in general, not even transgender, are underrepresented in the media. And, specifically, also me being Asian and Japanese-American is one example of that. My advocacy is to help bring more visibility of trans women, and women of colour generally.
What’s it like being a Japanese American engaged in Spanish media?
It is rewarding and fun and different! I like being different. In the beginning, it was something I wanted to be a part of, but people did not really understand. And the demographics are different. But, then I learned to embrace it and.. this is who I am. Life has taught me to learn to embrace and love who I am. Everybody else around you will just follow.
How was your experience in Chile?
My experience in Chile was something amazing. I never imagined that I would be taken to another country and appear in another television show apart (“The Switch”) from RuPaul’s Drag Race. But, I was given the opportunity to live in and experience a different culture for six months. I am very glad I had the capability of speaking Spanish and I am happy I did it, because I never thought that speaking Spanish would take me so far in the world. I am very grateful for this opportunity and I learned a lot about myself and life, in general. It was an amazing experience and I appreciated the life that I had and the life that exists in other places.
What is your opinion about the UK RuPaul’s Drag Race that is going to be aired later this year? Do you think it is going a different program and the show will adapt to the UK culture and drag scene, that is quite different to the American one?
You know what? I think that miss RuPaul always has new tricks and gags up her sleeve, and I hope the show will embrace British drag and culture. We have seen in so many seasons American drag which is fabulous and has set up a tone for everyone all around the world, but it would be really fresh and rewarding to see something different and really British. It will not be American television and I would like to see the real British drag roots, and I am sure the British audience would embrace that.
In a recent interview with Laganja Estranja, Laganja confessed that one of her best and real friends from the drag scene is you Gia. Do you have friends from the show?
Honestly, Laganja is probably the only friend I have kept in touch with since our season and have hanged out with and until very recently, we lived together. All in all, she has been my longest lasting friend from the show and till this day, a very good friend to me and someone who has supported me in and out, career and personal wise. I would have to say that she is my only true friend from the show. I really do cherish this connection and the value of friendship between us.
Some people have accused RuPaul and the show for transhphobia. Do you feel the same way?
I don’t think RuPaul is transphobic. I just think he has an idea of what she wants the contestants of the show to be like and I think that’s that.
What is your opinion about the way you were portrayed in All Stars?
I loved it. I think it was all very full circle, you saw many different sides of me and I stayed true to myself. I was entertaining and I feel I gave the show life. I know that the people who have supported me until this point would have been disappointed if they saw something else, so all in all, I feel I did my very best and gave good story lines, which is what the story is about in the end of the day.
Is there more trans awareness now?
I believe that there is more visibility than awareness. People know of trans people or have seen trans people online or in person or on TV, but I don’t know how much awareness there is, meaning people actually knowing the ins and outs of trans life. Concerning politics and statistics, I don’t know if people inside or outside our community are that acknowledgeable of these things. I am not sure if people even in the LGBT culture are that acknowledgeable either. This is something that I understood during my transition. I feel though that now, at least, people know that trans people exist. Sometimes, they do not know much more than that and, this for me as a trans person is a bit of an issue. It is all about education and taking your own initiative to read up on these things and investigate for the sake of knowledge. Sometimes people think it is not their responsibility to know about my life, that’s why I feel it is my responsibility to put all this information out there and help people have a clear understanding of what it means to be trans. I feel we are getting there and I, myself want to create more inspiration videos and give resources to people. I am very thankful and it is very rewarding when people tell me that my truth and my story is helping them! Even if it feels hard sometimes to read about things that are a bit hard and difficult to talk about, I feel I am a leader for these people and want to keep being this empire for the trans community.
Who are your role models and the people you look up to?
I definitely look up to my mother because she taught me to be myself and to be unapologetic about the things I do and say in my life. She has also been a great inspiration to me about life in general and about how to live a healthy lifestyle and to take care of myself, especially going though all these physical changes. Another person I admire is Janet Mock. She is an activist and author and a great person and has helped me in my journey as a trans person. She is very eloquent and smart and educated and aware and is someone that that I look up to get educated and informed! I also look up to Gigi Gorgeous, as she was one of the first trans persons that I saw in the internet and she will forever be one of my early memories of trans positivity and excellence. She also had her book published which is very inspirational.
What are your future plans?
At the moment I am trying to finish out celebrating this whole RuPaul’s Drag Race movement and I am planning my one-woman show where I will be able to further tell my story to people through my performance. I am also looking forward to doing more advocating for the trans community and bringing more awareness of the trans life to the world and the transitions for trans youth. I want to be an openly trans entrepreneur and create things from trans people to trans people. I would like to have a company that employs trans men and women, gets other people off from the street and more unfortunate circumstances and give them a safe place where they can make money and serve the community. There is not really a lot out there for trans people and I definitely see myself in the future doing something that is for trans by trans people.