The upcoming fifth series of Drag Race UK is set to feature two queens with unique stories to tell – Alexis Saint Pete, hailing from Poland, and Cara Melle, originally from the United States. Their journeys from their home countries to the UK highlight both triumphs and challenges faced by LGBTQ individuals around the world.
Chasing Dreams in a Conservative Climate
Cara Melle, a 26-year-old queen from Atlanta, Georgia, a traditionally conservative US state, had always dreamt of participating in Drag Race. However, she had to “literally hide in the closet” to watch the show due to concerns about her family’s reaction. The show that inspired her also filled her with anxiety, as she watched it in secret, fearing discovery.
Cara moved to the UK seven years ago to study fashion, where she found a more welcoming and open culture that allowed her drag career to flourish. In contrast, she felt that in the US, people expected her drag to conform to a safer, more conventional image.
Homophobia Persists Despite Progress
Despite the acceptance she found in the UK, Cara acknowledges that it’s not without its challenges for trans individuals. She experienced more blatant homophobia in the UK than when she identified as male in the US, indicating that homophobia still persists. Cara’s concern extends to her family back in the US, where laws like the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill have targeted LGBTQ communities.
Breaking Barriers in the UK
Alexis Saint Pete, a 28-year-old queen from Poland, also moved to the UK, arriving at the age of 12 to attend a prestigious dance school. His experience in the UK was an eye-opener compared to his homeland, where LGBTQ representation was scarce. In his words, “We didn’t have anybody like us, we didn’t have any drag queens.”
Despite facing challenges and a lack of acceptance in his Polish school, Alexis remained true to himself. He feels that Poland is making progress thanks to the visibility provided by social media, which has introduced diverse voices to the country.
Balancing Authenticity and Safety
However, Alexis still finds that he must conform to societal expectations when returning to Poland, except in the capital city, Warsaw, where he can be more authentic. He believes that Poland is moving in the right direction, with the influence of social media allowing people to see the diversity of human experiences.
Both Alexis and Cara agree that representing a community can be a weighty responsibility, but they remain focused on being their authentic selves. As they prepare to grace the Drag Race UK stage, they aim to showcase their unique talents and stories without the burden of being the “voice of the whole community.”
Their journeys exemplify the power of self-expression and the challenges that LGBTQ individuals face in different parts of the world. As the new series of Drag Race UK approaches, it promises to be a platform for not only dazzling performances but also important conversations about identity, acceptance, and the ongoing fight against homophobia.
Don’t miss the upcoming season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, airing on BBC Three on September 28, 21:00 BST, and available on iPlayer afterward.