I do declare! It’s been five years since Blair St. Clair first hit our TV screens on the 10th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Don’t let that babyface or their youthful optimism fool you, they’re all grown up. They’ve released a string of hits, including a Billboard charting album, and they debuted their new one-person show, Legally Blair, in NYC this year. First introduced to the world as a Classic Hollywood starlet, both their look and voice have evolved to reflect newfound confidence, the cultivation of their mental health, and their acceptance and celebration of their sexuality. Blair 2.0 is on fire, and in the face of the current political attacks on the drag and trans community, they have a lot to say … and sing.
An Indiana native, their relationship with heels and lashes and even the gay community, was not an early one. With a passion for performing from birth, the theatre world would become their safe place.
I didn’t know what a gay person was until around seventh grade. I didn’t even know that the term gay existed. I had no idea – I’d never heard of it. I didn’t know that boys could like boys or girls could like girls. I distinctly remember being in fifth grade watching a Pacers game in Indianapolis with my dad and him asking me which one of the cheerleaders I thought was pretty. I couldn’t come up with an answer, so I made up an answer. I remember thinking, am I supposed to think they’re pretty? Am I too young to think they’re pretty? Do my other brothers think they’re pretty? I don’t understand why I don’t, but I wanted to be them. It was a strange experience.
Being an LGBT person and finding LGBT outlets in my community growing up was far and few between. But when I found theatre, I was like, oh wait, that boy likes that other boy. And I thought, oh, that’s so different. I didn’t know that could happen. I was finally exposed to people in the real world who were queer and what that looked like, and it completely started shaping my life in a different way.
My coming-out story is kind of sweet. I like to make light of it and I joke about it, but I’m actually very grateful. I started toying around with the idea that I might have been gay as an eighth grader, maybe freshman year of high school. It was a traditional Sunday night dinner with my family, completely normal, or so I thought. My dad was asking questions of both my two brothers and me, and he came to me and said, “So how’s school? How are your grades? Do you like boys?” I was completely caught off guard, shocked obviously, and replied, “Dad, I don’t know …” I couldn’t really even finish the sentence when he said, “Look, it doesn’t matter if you do, if you don’t, whatever you decide, whatever you feel, just wanted you to know that we are here to talk about it.” Then I finally came to my parents afterward and said, “You know, I think I’m gay.” And they said, “Cool, if that’s who you are.” At that moment, they didn’t say that they necessarily agreed with my “choice,” but they said that they were here for me as their son, and they wanted to love me. My dad came around with the idea quicker than my mom did, which I find not to be the story with most. My mom didn’t have a problem with me being gay, she had a problem with the fact that her son’s life might be harder than her other two kids for the fact that I am queer.
And for a while, I didn’t understand that. I thought that she didn’t care for having a gay son. My dad wasn’t necessarily super warm and fuzzy either, but wasn’t necessarily against it. So, my coming out was kind of like a fun, easy way of just announcing to the world, “Hey, I’m gay.”
Blair’s brother would go out of his way to show support by also coming out … as straight. He stated that if Blair had to be made uncomfortable by talking about their sexuality at the dinner table, so too should everyone else. It has become a family tradition for everyone to come out and discuss their preferences, what pronouns to use, who they like, and how they want to be treated.
Drag did not come into the picture until later with theatre once again being a part of Blair’s evolution.
I didn’t have much exposure to drag. I think I was either a senior in high school, I was at a friend’s house and they had an episode of Drag Race on, season two or three. I had never heard of it. I never knew what drag was. I didn’t even call actors that were cast in female roles like Mrs. Doubtfire or actors that were playing drag queens, like Too Wong Fu, in movies. I didn’t even call that or consider that drag. I just thought they were actors, and oh, that’s cool, but it’s not for me. Like, good for them, it’s interesting but I wasn’t captivated by it.
Blair would sneak into clubs to watch drag shows but still wasn’t inspired to don a wig. It wasn’t until they were cast in a production of the musical La Cage aux Folles that they would finally get into drag. It was love at first brush.
My focus and my love and passion were always in the theatre. It wasn’t until I was cast that I was like, oh, this IS theatre. So, I had this exposure to drag – I saw it, but I never had this need or want to do it. It wasn’t this huge media phenomenon that it is today either. If anything, I think to say you were a drag queen at that point in time, dating was harder because guys were turned off by it. Saying that you were a drag queen in public had a negative connotation. It was almost like the way, unfortunately, we stereotype people when talking about strippers or people who work in the adult entertainment industry. A lot of time people have a negative opinion of it. I think that is what happened with drag before Drag Race became popular.
Before Blair did Drag Race, they won Miss Gay Indiana. During that pageant, they learned the skills that would prepare them for reality TV and a career in drag.
The experience was really cool because my drag mom at the time was actually the current Miss Gay Indiana and she was like, look, here’s the insider scoop. This is what you need to know, what you don’t need to do. You just have to be you. Be authentic and do what you do best. Pageantry is about being clean and consistent. It’s of course being good, but not necessarily the best always wins. It’s about having consistent scores. So, I used all my theater knowledge and was like, okay, I’m just going to be this well-polished, theatrical person that I am. I put all that knowledge of theater into it. I learned so much. It was such a cool experience. Winning Miss Indiana, literally after I turned 21, gave me so much exposure to start performing and traveling all over my state because now I had this notoriety, I held this title.
Blair was not just putting on a dress. Drag came with an additional meaning as themes and societal norms regarding masculine and feminine energy began to play a part in Blair’s life. Part of Blair’s evolution is their coming out as non-binary.
I have this struggle daily today with this masculine-feminine energy. Whether it’s being a drag queen, whether it’s being an actor, whether it’s being a gay man, a man in general, or a non-binary person. I feel like I had this struggle then in a different way than now. Then, when I was growing up, it was: you’re too feminine to play these roles on stage as a male actor, you’re too young, you’re not masculine enough, but you’re too masculine for some of these kid roles. Today I feel like I am too feminine as a gay man at times and not masculine enough. I feel this need to be more masculine presenting when I’m out of drag at times to display that I do have that range – I’m living in and out of both. As a non-binary person, there’s no cookie-cutter way to be. Some people inherently think, oh, non-binary means androgynous and it means in-between – but it doesn’t. It means that there are days I connect with masculine energy, and there are days that I connect with feminine energy and it’s back and forth and in and out. I try to discuss and tell people that “blue” does not equal “boy” in the same way that “Barbie” does not equal “girl.” They are toys, colors, and things that we shouldn’t gender. But it’s the struggle back and forth in feeling where I fit in and where I’m also confident, as well as being recognized for the masculine and feminine stuff.
Blair has talked about the fact that they didn’t feel like their authentic self during that first season of Drag Race. The competition was not about Blair’s winning, it was about them finding themselves.
Blair St. Clair used to be a persona that I switched into. It was this escape. It was escapism from my real life. It was this person I always wanted to be, but just the best qualities of that person. There were no flaws, there were no things I disliked. It became such a perfectionist’s Type A dream. It was this perfect reality or this universe that doesn’t exist. I wanted it to be perfect and live in this little Utopia that I created for myself. Doing Drag Race, I realized I was being critiqued and this little perfect world, this perfect bubble I created, wasn’t so perfect. Then I started having to dive deep into who I am as a person and going to therapy and unraveling.
Why did I create this persona? Why did I create this escape from my life? Why am I not comfortable in my own life? It’s a really cool thing today because I don’t need Blair to escape. I don’t have to have her to feel comfortable or feel confident or feel beautiful or feel like I can perform. I can do that on my own now. But I found it through drag. Now Blair is just the high-glammed version of myself, kind of as if a celebrity was going to the Oscars or going to a red carpet event, they get into drag, it’s their own type of drag. My type of drag is female presenting or feminine presenting, whereas your drag might be wearing a really great suit and getting a fresh haircut and feeling really comfortable or confident. I find that there’s drag in everybody and everything, and RuPaul says all the time, “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.” My drag now today is not escapism. It’s not costuming necessarily either, it’s just another way of presenting myself.
Blair’s look and presentation have notably changed. Blair is not just a replica of a ‘40s or ‘60s starlet anymore, they have cultivated their own image – full of sexuality and fluidity. In their own words, Blair has become an adult. Part of being an adult is coming to terms with past trauma. Not only has Blair dealt with body image issues, but they were also a victim of rape. Now they are taking control of that trauma and drawing strength from working through it. Recently, a thirst trap of Blair’s went viral. It wasn’t about the likes or the comments, it was about the fact that they were in control.
I don’t want people to think that because I am eating more, going to the gym, taking care of my body, and because I put muscle mass now all of a sudden I’m confident – that’s not the case. I’m confident because I’m healthy today. I battled a horrible eating disorder through middle school, high school, and through Drag Race – everything I hid. If you look back at photos, you could tell that I was malnourished and unhealthy. But I escaped another way of life by feeding (no pun intended) this eating disorder that made my life unhealthy.
During the pandemic in 2020, I really was striving for health because I had a time when I had to be introspective and look at my life. I had no work, we weren’t performing, and I wasn’t traveling. I went through a breakup. I moved back to my hometown. I lost the majority of everything that I had worked hard for from my eating disorder and from my relationship with drugs and alcohol and I lost a lot that I really worked hard for in my life. I had to look inward and say, I don’t want this life anymore. I want to be healthy. So, with these thirst traps, I started a journey of finding health for myself, which then felt found confidence. The healthiness found confidence. The confidence was like, cool, I want to share this. I’m excited by it. But also, the sexual journey, too, has been a sexual awakening throughout my adult life because my initial experience with sex was not my choice. I felt like it was taken from me. I had this anger of people who did feel sexy, did feel confident. I had this jealousy, I had this rage where if people were confident or posting thirst traps, I wanted to be them, but I wasn’t them. I so desperately wanted that internal confidence. And I’ve been able to find more and more of that every day by finding more health for myself and finding more excitement for myself and who I am. Every day, I feel like I lean into a little bit more loving the person that I am and feeling less need to be what everyone else is.
Blair is using their platform and newfound confidence to speak out against the blatant conservative attack on the drag community.
It feels like it has come out of left field, and it feels like we’re constantly fighting to be seen and to be heard. I feel like we’re constantly having our voices just taken away.
I have questions – why are you uncomfortable? What is it that you’re afraid of? What do you interpret that drag queens are doing with children? Because if your thought process is that we’re perverted or we have adult content or behavior, then you’re mistaken. Because drag is an art form, the same way that any other live entertainment is an art form. It should be for everybody, by everybody. It was founded in queer culture, but that doesn’t mean it’s just for queer people. We’ve shown that it’s for everyone and there’s a place for everyone. And with that inclusion, it’s also for people of all ages.
Now if I’m being candid, is there some drag entertainment that might be suitable for adults? Absolutely. But there is a time and place for that the same way there is theater that’s for adults. There is TV that’s for adults. There are movies that are rated PG 13 and R and people are told this is maybe not kid worthy. But at the end of the day, a child can only be parented by their parents. It is a parent’s job to say what their child should or should not be exposed to.
What about someone in a costume is inappropriate for a child? If the conversation is: this cis man wearing a costume that is “supposed” to be worn by a woman is wrong, then that’s the true discussion that people are not having. Right? But that’s where their problem lies. The content that’s being shared is not inappropriate.
Some of Blair’s Drag Race peers have been called out for not actively posting about or making statements about the current legal actions being taken against the drag community. Even Momma Ru herself was prodded on social media to make a statement. Does Blair think it is an LGBTQ influencer’s duty to get involved?
I don’t think influencers or celebrities, people with platforms, are supposed to do anything. I think we have the privilege of having a platform that I want to take advantage of. So doing this interview is a way of saying that I’m taking advantage of the platform, the following, I have to be able to use my voice and make it heard because my voice is important to me. When I was assaulted, my voice was taken away from me. When I’ve been in audition rooms and people haven’t cast because of my gender, my voice is taken away from me. When I have been in situations where I was told no, or I wasn’t seen or wasn’t heard, my voice is taken away from me. This is a chance for me to be able to use that voice and to be able to be present and to talk about situations that are particularly important to not just my life, but others around me.
We are selfish people. We’re humans. We want to only talk about things that are important to us. Some might think, oh, this isn’t going to affect me, so I don’t want to talk about it. But it is important to use that voice and to talk about it. Speaking honestly, I don’t think anyone is supposed to do anything, but I think that we should be really rallying, rallying behind people with platforms to use them because that is part of what they are for.
How does Blair think we can best support the community?
I think the best way to support one’s community is again, by using a voice. Whether that’s spoken or in text, making posts, and sharing things. Social media is a free commercial at your fingertips where you can be pumped with information and education in seconds. Some people say, oh, my vote doesn’t matter. Your vote matters and your sharing matters. Because the more people see things, the more people learn and are educated. More education helps funnel into opinions to then vote on issues and topics. And that is priceless. So, sharing education and learning is number one. I think number two is going to spaces in person and showcasing your support.
It’s having hard discussions with people privately one-on-one who don’t understand. Because I would rather someone say, I know that you don’t agree with this, but I want you to at least put my knowledge and my ideas to the test and have this conversation. You don’t have to walk away agreeing, but let’s have this conversation. I think that’s where we can start finding support.
I’m doing it in a literal form by using my speaking and my singing voice because drag queens are specifically known for not using their voices. I’ve been telling my drag friends, this is a time now more than ever to speak out, to get on the microphone, to talk, to sing, to use the voices that we have in our bodies.
My message is to be loud and be heard. No one is too small – no one. Everyone’s voice matters and should be taken seriously and your art is valid. It’s time to celebrate each other more. It’s also time to get out there and demand more from everyone, but also to thank those who have helped clear these pathways for us. One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing about new people dabbling in art, whether it’s drag or anything queer, and not knowing where and who came before us to make it possible. Because I can go on TikTok and do a transformation from male-presenting to female-presenting and it can be a wonder and it can be art. We come from a place where that used to be hidden, and I’m so excited that that’s celebrated today. I want people to understand we should be grateful that that’s where our world is today.
You can follow Blair on IG: @BlairSt.Clair
Last modified: April 14, 2023