Conservative Values, Meet Drag Values

Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

After dominating in a lip-sync battle last month that quickly became the stuff of legend, Brooklyn-based drag queen Sasha Velour took home the crown on the most-watched and highest-rated season in the history of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

In a heartfelt conversation with Joey Nolfi at Entertainment Weekly, Velour — an unapologetic intellectual — discusses the theory behind her unique sense of beauty and drama, and how she uses both to champion a historical, political form of drag.

VELOUR: I believe drag is a form of activism. It centers queer people and queer ways of being beautiful, especially in a political context where beauty is narrowly defined or what’s considered important or valuable is narrowly defined, and drag always offers a different option, or a variety of different options… I took for granted how much drag is still about play, and how playing and being light about your identity and yourself is actually a form of resistance, too.

EW: You said at Nightgowns earlier this year that every person who puts on drag is heroic. Why is it important to remind people of that?

VELOUR: There are lots of ways we can resist conservatism. It’s important queer people do that, especially, but also all of our allies because, in conservative systems, non-binary people, trans people, people of color, and even women are never going to be valued and safe. Drag resists conservatism in the most basic way possible, and also in the most effective way possible because it’s improper when it comes to looks, which is everything in conservative systems. Conservatism is all about surfaces and labels and presentation, and drag says, no, we refuse to follow any rules about that. It’s also fun and freeing, and that, in itself, is oppositional to cultures of fear and hate.

EW: Do you hope that’s what your Drag Race legacy will be?

VELOUR: People before have been eliminated for being over-thinkers, and I’ve succeeded because of it. I’m an over-thinker with a fighter’s spirit. I hope my legacy is that sometimes that level of thought is an asset, especially now in this political moment, because this political moment is very anti-intellectual, anti-information, and anti-historical.

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