EW reports that that five past Drag Race winners recently reunited for a special LGBTQ+ History Month tribute honoring queer heroes of color.
As part of RuPaul’s Drag Race’s #LGBTQHerstoryMonth, Bebe Zaraha Benet, Monet X Change, Yvie Oddly, Jadia Essence Hall and Symone gathered at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles for a special photoshoot with photographer Erik Carter.
Each queen was inspired by an LGBTQ+ figure of color who contributed to the history, community and culture of the LGBTQ+ community.
The photo series features season 1's BeBe Zahara Benet recognizing trans activist Raquel Willis. Meanwhile, All Stars 4 queen Monét X Change decided to honor disco singer-songwriter Sylvester.
Season 11 victor Yvie Oddly paid tribute to William Dorsey Swann, the "Queen of Drag" who, after being born into slavery, became the first American activist to lead a queer resistance movement.
Jaida Essence Hall of season 12 chose to celebrate the career of Josephine Baker, a pioneer for Black actresses in film. Finally, the current reigning queen from season 13, Symone, honored civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.
In a behind the scenes look at the shoot, each of the queens shared the significance of LGBTQ+ history.
"It's very important for young queer people to get to learn their history, because we can't lose our culture," BeBe insists."That's what's going to help you move forward, and the generations after you. The fight is still there; we're not done. We still have a lot of work to do, and we can't do that work without knowing what the past was."
"It's not taught in schools, most of the time, parents are not teaching queer history,” added Monet. “I need to look up things about Stonewall, I need to know who Marsha P. Johnson was, who Sylvia [Rivera was]."
They also recall how important a show like RuPaul’s Drag Race can be for the LGBTQ+ community and how to live up to being a winner.
"This show saved my life," Symone says. "I've watched it since season 1, and I remember being a kid who was very shy. I didn't really like myself, so winning a show that taught me so much about myself, about the world, about drag and our history and everything that I hold dear, it means everything to me, and I get to, in a way, kind of be that for somebody else."
“Sometimes you need somebody in life to ‘go first’ and Drag Race has been like that ‘go first’ thing in real culture to me,” explained Jaida.
Watch the full BTS video below:
Be on the lookout for more exclusive content as Drag Race's #LGBTQHerstoryMonth campaign continues throughout the month of October!