RuPaul's Drag Race winners unite for LGBTQ History Month tribute: 'The fight is still there'
The queens of RuPaul's Drag Race aren't stopping until all are equal in their kingdom.
VH1 assembled five past Drag Race winners for a special LGBTQ History Month tribute honoring their queer heroes of color, and EW can exclusively reveal the stunning image meant to raise awareness about the ongoing fight for community rights.
The pictures, framed at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles by photographer Erik Carter — who previously shot Kerry Washington for EW's 2020 Entertainers of the Year issue — feature season 1's BeBe Zahara Benet recognizing trans activist Raquel Willis; All Stars 4 queen Monét X Change honoring disco singer-songwriter Sylvester; season 12 victor Jaida Essence Hall celebrating Josephine Baker, a pioneer for Black actresses in film; reigning season 13 winner Symone memorializing civil rights activist Bayard Rustin; and season 11 champ Yvie Oddly paying tribute to William Dorsey Swann, the "Queen of Drag" who, after being born into slavery, became the first American activist to lead a queer resistance movement.
"It's very important for young queer people to get to learn their history, because we can't lose our culture," BeBe says in an exclusive behind-the-scenes video chronicling the shoot (below). "That's what's going to help you move forward, and the generations after you. The fight is still there; we're not done. We still have a lot of work to do, and we can't do that work without knowing what the past was."
Yvie says she values getting to dig through queer history to learn from the past in an effort to advance not only the queer movement, but all of humanity. "You can't break rules properly until you learn them," she says with a laugh.
Adds Monét: "It's not taught in schools, most of the time, parents are not teaching queer history… I need to look up things about Stonewall, I need to know who Marsha P. Johnson was, who Sylvia [Rivera was]."
As winners of the most prominent queer show on television, the queens also reflect on their roles in charting a path for the next generation.
"This show saved my life," Symone says. "I've watched it since season 1, and I remember being a kid who was very shy. I didn't really like myself, so winning a show that taught me so much about myself, about the world, about drag and our history and everything that I hold dear, it means everything to me, and I get to, in a way, kind of be that for somebody else."
It's a responsibility Jaida doesn't take lightly as Drag Race continues shaping culture. "We're doing things that other people have literally laid their lives on the line for us to be able to do," she concludes.
Drag Race's #LGBTQHerstoryMonth campaign continues throughout October, with photos, videos, and more scheduled to roll out on the show's social platforms. See EW's exclusive preview of the project above.
Image and video provided by VH1.
Subscribe to EW's BINGE podcast for full recaps of RuPaul's Drag Race, including our new season diving into all five All Stars seasons, featuring exclusive interviews with Jujubee, Alexis Mateo, Shea Couleé, Alaska, Detox, BenDeLaCreme, Kennedy Davenport, and more. And be sure to catch up on our BINGE recaps of RuPaul's Drag Race seasons 1-13 with Symone, Jaida Essence Hall, Trixie Mattel, Katya, Peppermint, Bianca Del Rio, Bob the Drag Queen, Sasha Velour, and more!
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