After multiple Asian women were killed in a mass shooting, Sakura calls for community protection: "That could easily have been me, it could easily have been people you care about and love."

By Joey Nolfi
March 18, 2021 at 10:55 AM EDT
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After six Asian women were murdered Tuesday night in an Atlanta area mass shooting, fan-favorite RuPaul's Drag Race queen Rock M. Sakura has revealed her past as a sex worker in an emotional plea for her community's protection.

The season 12 alum tweeted a statement early Thursday calling for an end to Asian hatred in the wake of the shooting, which left eight people — most of them of Asian descent — dead after a lone gunman traveled to three separate massage parlors in Georgia.

Sakura said she had been working in massage up to her debut on the Emmy-winning reality competition series' 12th season at the top of 2020, and that the fear of being abandoned by her community forced her to hide that part of her life.

"Every day I have felt the emotional weight of keeping this secret from the community, and my fanbase, because of fear of being blacklisted from things like tv appearances and all stars, slut shamed publicly, or losing job opportunities in different countries (I was never threatened or told I was)," Sakura wrote, stressing that she was "never threatened to be blacklisted" by the show or any other job, but that the social "stigma of sex work made ME believe that would be a consequence" as she began her mainstream drag debut on the VH1 series.

"The truth is, my job paid for my expenses while I lived in [San Francisco], and helped me pursue and fund my drag, even on drag race," Sakura continued. "But right now people need to see, need to hear, and need to know that we need to #stopasianhate and protect sex workers."

Though it is unclear whether those killed in Tuesday's shooting were sex workers, area police have said the 21-year-old gunman informed authorities that the attacks were an attempt to eliminate a personal temptation of sex addiction versus being motivated by racism — a claim that drew intense criticism on social media in recent days.

Still, the coverage inspired Sakura to speak about her past to inspire perspective in those around her — particularly those in the queer community.

"That could easily have been me, it could easily have been people you care about and love. I have felt safety in the lgbt community, while I was working. I have felt strong and supported. Please, I urge you, if you are a fan of me, of of drag, and LGBTQIA+ person or ally, please help protect our community right now. Please keep Asian people safe," she said. "I have often distanced myself from talking about matters involving myself sexually, tried to distance myself from thirst baiting, and avoided talking about my sex life, because to me, Sakura is not Bryan. Sakura is my vessel for expressing my love of all things cute and kawaii, fun and wild. But I think it's important right now to use her platform to help you realize how much this means to me. How scared I am right now."

Following Sakura's message, scores of her RuPaul's Drag Race sisters have tweeted their support, with season 12 winner Jaida Essence Hall referencing a long-running joke between the cast when she responded: "You know the only thing I'd ever hold against you is your farts. I support you and love you so much."

Fellow season 12 queens Widow Von'Du and Nicky Doll also expressed love for Sakura, with the former tweeting a simple "love you" on the thread, and the latter promising that "no one could possibly love you less after this tweet. They can only love you even more. And I do too, SO much!"

Elsewhere in Hollywood, many Asian stars — including Olivia Munn, Margaret Cho, and Emily in Paris' Ashley Park — have taken to social media to voice outrage over the increase in Asian hate crimes. Many have taken particular issue with the pervasive blaming of the COVID pandemic on Asian people, which they believe has led to an increase in hate crimes reported against Asian people across the last year — including 3,800 targeted attacks since early 2020.

Shannon Lee, the daughter of screen icon Bruce Lee, also tweeted an impassioned condemnation against Tuesday's acts of violence, writing that "this is where 'kung flu' leads. You think it's a joke and that we shouldn't be so serious about it. But then there are those who latch onto it with hatred and xenophobia and use it to fuel their fear and contempt until it explodes into heinous acts."

Subscribe to EW's BINGE podcast for a full recaps of all 12 seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race, featuring exclusive interviews with Trixie Mattel, Katya, Bianca Del Rio, Bob the Drag Queen, Sasha Velour, and more.

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