The world better get ready – they’re here, they’re queer, and they’re FAB. U. LOUS. On June 27th at 8pm EDT, eight queens who have survived quarantine come together to form a royal court of drag favorites to Werq the World and run rampant in Pride Castle, led by the reigning winner of Drag Race, Jaida Essene Hall, and former title holder, Yvie Oddly. Hosted by trans activist Candis Cayne and joined by Drag Race alum Heidi N Closet, Raja, Naomi Smalls, Kim Chi,and Plastique, this live stream will feature individual performances thoughout the castle and a grand ball finale featuring the full cast, together for the first time since quarantine. This is Pride with a purpose and will include a frank and direct round table discussion among the queens about this season’s Pride, and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have had on the LGBT+ community. Net proceeds from Werq the World: Pride Castle ticket sales and 100% of viewer tips and donations will be donated to the National Black Justice Coalition, an organization dedicated to empowering the black LGBT+ community.
Winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race Jaida Essence Hall and Yvie Oddly took a moment from rehearsal to give us an exclusive tea spilling session about winning Drag Race, coming out, supporting the BLM movement and surviving quarantine.
Jaida, winning this year’s Drag Race was an odd win as you were isolated on your own to celebrate your win! How did competing for the finale in your apartment play with your mind?
It was difficult because all my career I’ve just been a performer or host at shows and the production side is not something that I’m very familiar with at all. So, it gave me nerves knowing how creative my sisters are and to know that they’d turn it out for the finale
Yvie, as your name suggests, your drag is outside the box, as is your style and personality. What advice would you give an LGBTQ youth who is struggling to discover their identity within the community while staying true to themselves?
I would tell them not to be too concerned with trying to label themselves outright, because identity is a lot more complex than even aspects of the queer community portray it to be. Instead, I would suggest open-minded exploration. Surround yourself with ALL types of people, immerse yourself in new things that confuse and excite you, and practice reflection: what makes YOU happy? What do YOU want?
Jaida, how will you use your crown this year to give voice to the LGBTQ community?
I really want to be myself and speak about issues that are important to me because there are so many people JUST like me who may feel alone or under represented. I want people to know that the queer community is full of so many different amazing people, that they all play a role and we all matter.
How can the LGBTQ community best support the BLM movement?
Jaida: I think that the best way the LGBTQ community can best support the BLM movement is by remembering that this is not a fad but that this has been and is an ongoing issue. We have to see this thru till the end and keep using our voices for change.
How can we best fight racism within the LGBQ community?
Jaida: In the queer community I think that people have to really take a closer look at the way POC are truly treated and make as many changes to the way in which we’re treated. I know from personal experiences that queer spaces that should be safe havens for ALL queer people are not always welcoming. I think Change starts in our communities first and then we can branch out further and further.
What was your coming out story?
Yvie: I had always known I was attracted to men, but had never acknowledged it because I was also attracted to women; I had assumed it was just something that all boys felt but never talked about. As I grew older and came to know what “gay” meant, I worked harder every day to suppress those feelings…until I cracked.
I was 15 and experiencing the deep loneliness of my circumstances, when a boy I’d known since diapers began showing me attention. He made me feel seen and special in a way that I’d never felt before, and when one of his friends told me that he had had a crush on me I decided it was finally time to confront my feelings. I sent him a long-winded message professing my feelings for him and, much to my dismay, he replied saying he no longer felt that way…After surviving that, I found the courage to start telling my friends, family members, and the world who I was. I’m pretty sure I wrote a Facebook status.
Jaida: I literally didn’t really have a coming out story. One day at my 20th birthday I introduced my family to my boyfriend and that was that.
Yvie, how has dating life changed since winning Drag Race?
I’ve actually been with my current boyfriend since a week before my season aired, so I haven’t really “dated” post-show. But we’re in an open relationship so I can say navigating Grindr is more fruitful.
Jaida, spill the tea, girl…what was the shadiest moment backstage that we didn’t see on this year’s Drag Race?
The shadiest moment off camera was in the mornings when I would “y’all” SO much and some of the girls would just slowly pop their headphones in 😂
Who is someone in the LGBTQ community that you look up to?
Jaida: There are so many people I look up and who inspire me. But the most courageous of them are my trans mentors. I’ve always looked up to my mother Lady Taj Mahal (who is no longer with us), Tommie Ross, Chevelle Brooks, Stasha Sanchez, and so many others. These ladies are unapologetically themselves even in a world that does not give them the full respect they deserve. If that’s not inspiring I don’t know what is.
Yvie: It used to be RuPaul. As a feminine gay black kid, I had never really seen myself represented in the media so courageously before them. Now my heroes are the people who have that same courage to live authentically in the face of oppression, but who do it without the promise of a paycheck or praise.
How are you preparing for Werq the World’s Pride Castle?
Jaida: I’ve always dreamt of Werq the World and now, the fantasy is a reality, so I really want to add a little bit more fantasy onto that. I’ve been working on ways to showcase my creativity and storytelling so that visually, without any explanation, you are a part of the story.
Yvie: I’ve been trying to put together something that will entertain the masses AND speak to the struggles of black Americans. It’s gonna be a big metaphor for our history, our current state of existence, and my hopes on how we can achieve a brighter future. Also, I’m trying to figure out some castle-appropriate attire.
Yvie, staying true to yourself can sometimes be isolating, and now with us being cooped up under quarantine, that feeling can be increased. How have you gotten through quarantine? How has it changed your creative process?
I don’t want to imply I’m some self-help guru, but I’ve actually been thriving during quarantine because I haven’t viewed it that way. Instead of seeing it as “I can’t go out and do…” I’ve approached it in terms of “I get to stay home and focus on…” It’s been really helpful for my creative process (and my life in general) because I’ve been able to spend the time and energy it takes to learn and grow. I’m fully invested in my own potential again.
What does Pride mean to you?
Jaida: Pride means taking joy in and loving who you are. All the parts of you, your community and the people in it. When we love ourselves, we can better love the people around us.
Yvie: Pride to me is the radical fight for, and celebration of, individuality, equality, and inclusivity. For the longest time I was doing Pride wrong because I was only focused on the celebration, but I’ve grown to realize that we cannot TRULY celebrate until we all win that fight.
Werq the World: Pride Castle streams live June 27th at 8PM EDT. Pre-sale tickets are $9.99 for a limited time at VossEvents.com. The show will be available for replay for 48 hours after the live event.
Last modified: June 21, 2020