RuPaul Opens Up About The Biggest Lesson He’s Learned From Drag Race

“Keep an open mind.”

In an interview with “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, RuPaul Charles addressed trans inclusion in the drag community — specifically on “Drag Race” — as well as comments he had made in the past about trans drag queens. At one point, the host asked Charles to tell him the biggest lesson he learned over the course of the show. Charles’ response? “To keep an open mind.”

“I walked into this thing with an idea of what drag is and the kids have a different idea,” Charles told Colbert. “They keep changing it.”

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” has been breaking barriers for gay men and the drag queen community since day one. Now in its 13th-season, the show continues its barrier-breaking tradition. This season features the show’s first-ever transmasculine drag queen, Gottmik, who works as both a drag performer and a makeup artist.

“I keep moving with what the kids are doing,” Charles told Colbert.

Trans and gender nonconforming drag queens have faced a hard fight to be included on “Drag Race.” Although there have been a number of alumni who have come out as trans or gender nonconforming — queens including Peppermint, Gia Gunn, Sasha Velour, and Shea Couleé — RuPaul hasn’t necessarily made public comments of support.

“You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body,” he told The Guardian in a 2018 interview. “It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing.”

But since then, the show has been making changes to the language used in the name of inclusivity. Beginning this season, one of Charles’ iconic tagline, “Gentlemen, start your engines, and may the best woman win,” has been replaced with a new gender-neutral phrase: “Racers, start your engines, and may the best drag queen win.”

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