Michelle Visage reflects on the importance of LGBTQ+ representation and the role of drag queens in modern society

Michelle Visage is one of the most recognisable names in television. Her early music career and later appearances on RuPaul’s Drag Race solidified her role as media royalty, while Michelle’s tireless advocacy as an LGBT speaker continues to prove the importance of inclusion. In this powerful interview, Michelle reflects on the importance of LGBTQ+ representation and the role of drag queens in modern society.

Having spent your career in the spotlight, why do you we need LGBTQ+ representation?

“For me, it is super important we have gay representation in mainstream media, because, when I was growing up, being gay was a parody, it was inauthentic. It was the over-the-top caricature of a gay man, it was always making fun of, instead of including.

“We need authentic gay representation in mainstream media right now, with gay actors actually performing gay-scripted roles, and trans actors actually performing trans-scripted roles. These things are super important to furthering society. Playing gay is not cool anymore, never really was cool, but it was way more accepted then, and it shouldn’t be accepted now.”

“I auditioned for a role recently and it was a drag queen role they wanted me to do. I went in and I said, ‘I don’t feel comfortable taking a role away from a drag performer.’ So, I got a different role instead, and it’s kind of that simple. I mean, an actor can easily say, ‘this should go to a gay, non-binary or trans actor.’ I know it’s a challenge for the actor, but there are other challenges out there.”

How do you define the role of a ‘drag queen’?

“A drag queen to me is giving a big ‘FU’ to society. It’s for all the people who never felt like they fit in. They have a place in drag, and they have a place within the community. Superheroes have capes, Drag is our superhero cape. So, when you’re not feeling good enough, let me tell you what we do. You go into the bathroom, you fix your hair, you put a little slap on your face. For me, I’ll throw some glasses on and some hoop earrings, I’ll wear leopard, get my nails done – it’s all drag!

“RuPaul says we’re all born naked, and the rest is drag. If you think about it, that’s true! If you go to work and you’re a doctor, you put on your scrubs, you put on your stethoscope, your hat – drag! You work at Nando’s, you put on your outfit – drag! Anywhere you go, that’s your drag.

“Sometimes for me, I just feel lousy. Then I go into the bathroom, I pick up a powder brush and I’ll start. Next thing you know I’m wearing full blue mascara, full blue eyeliner, and that’s my drag today. Drag just picks you up and makes you feel good. It is such a strong power and that’s why these kids on RuPaul’s Drag Race are superheroes. They’re so powerful. Their drag is moving, their drag is enlightening or challenging. That’s the beauty of it all, and that’s what it means to me.”

Finally, can you reveal the life lesson that has helped you through life’s challenges?

“My most valuable life lessons didn’t come to me until later in life, because if you told 20-year-old Michelle to stop taking life so seriously, stop worrying about the way you look and start worrying about the way you feel, and things like that, she wouldn’t have listened. If you would have told me not to get breast implants when I was 21, I still would have gotten breast implants. So, there’s many things along the way that I’ve learned.

“The saying ‘with age comes wisdom’ is so true! I have two daughters, and I say, ‘listen to me, I know what I’m talking about’, and they don’t give a damn! When I think back to when I was their age, I didn’t either. So, I think my most valuable life lesson is to loosen up, stop worrying so much about this person and what they think of you, or that gossip about you in school or at work. You know your truth and the truth always, I promise you, always reveals itself.

“Don’t take life so seriously. It’s a RuPaul thing, but it’s honestly the best lesson I’ve learned. The better I get at listening to that, the better I feel about myself. It’s really all about, how do you feel about yourself at the end of the day? Are you putting pressure on yourself to lose weight or have bigger lips? Mostly, women do these horrible things to themselves to try to compete. The only person you should be competing with is yourself, so give yourself a break!” This interview with Michelle Visage was conducted by Chris Tompkins.

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