Drag artists across America are speaking out against the recent legislative push to restrict drag performances in the presence of minors, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Jinkx Monsoon is no exception. In a recent interview with MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle,” Monsoon doubled down on her denouncement of the Republican-led bills, which have been proposed in at least 16 states this year. The majority of the bills would ban drag performances in the presence of minors and fine repeat violators thousands of dollars, with some even calling for performers to be sent to prison.
Tennessee recently became the first state to enact such legislation, which bans “adult cabaret entertainment” on public property or in locations where it can be viewed by minors. Performers who violate the law more than once can be charged with a felony and sent to prison for up to six years. Supporters argue that these measures are necessary to safeguard children against exposure to inappropriate entertainment, but critics like Monsoon say that the bills unfairly target the art form because of its deep ties to the LGBTQ community.
Monsoon, who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns when not in drag, has won both season five of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and season seven of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.” She speculated that the recent wave of anti-drag legislation is a response to the “fear” of shifting gender norms in America. “We have been conditioned to believe that there is a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to do things and that there’s a ‘natural’ and an ‘unnatural’ way to do things,” she said. “Imagine how infuriating that would be if you spent your whole life following the rules and then you were told those rules don’t actually exist.”
Monsoon also addressed a controversial speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference this month, where a speaker said “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.” She said the speaker’s remark wasn’t actually what scared her most. “What scares me more is the people who clapped for it,” she said.
When asked what her message is for LGBTQ people who are frightened amid this current political environment, Monsoon advised them to move to areas of the country where they can “find their community.” “We need you with us to keep fighting for our freedoms and liberties and equalities,” she continued. “And if you have to move to a more metropolitan area, until the rest of the country catches up, you know, do what it takes to keep yourself safe and find your community so that you can live your life truthfully and unapologetically.”