RuPaul’s Drag Race season nine had arguably the most competitive finalists in the show’s history, and perhaps the most diverse. Trinity was hilarious and quick-mouthed and stood out as a southern pageant queen with a killer body. Peppermint was outgoing and strong, always standing up for herself and dominating every lip sync challenge she was in, and proved drag is for trans women. Shea Couleé had a wide skillset throughout the competition and quickly became a judge-favorite through her impressive acting, dancing and sewing talents. Sasha, a bald queen who often cited queer and feminist intellectuals as inspiration, never made excuses for herself or her unique brand of drag - and ultimately snatched the crown as the next drag superstar.
Here’s what the finalists had to say on the red carpet before the finale viewing:
"Drag is, of course, not just about representation of women. The art of the drag queen is all about finding new ways to be a man, and that’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life and have tried to articulate. Drag can absolutely find themes that don’t fall into misogynistic tropes through connections between feminism and the body. It’s interesting, I think in the past drag has ironically found those ways, and now we can do it in a way that benefits everyone."
- Sasha, season nine winner
"Coming from the small town that I’m from, you have to keep pushing and pushing to make things happen. Do not wait and rely on other people because your dreams aren’t going to come to you. Anybody, no matter where they’re from, what family they come from, their background, their religion, their color, their race, their sexual orientation, their gender – you have the right to go after your dreams."
- Trinity, season nine finalist
"I started singing in the church choir when I was 7 years old. From a very young age I was learning what it meant to be in front of people and commit. For me, in the choir we weren’t really being taught it was a performance, we were being taught to authentically feel the praise, feel the worship, feel the love and feel the music. That has translated so much into my performance style. There’s this energy that always exists in the room between the spectators and the spectacle and it goes back and forth. I’m always hyper aware of the energy in the room and I always try and match it and push it."
- Shea, season nine finalist
"Coming out as a trans woman has shown me exactly where we are in society. It’s shown me how much the patriarchy seeps into and infests everything – not only politics and war, but also home life and how we relate to each other socially. Even today, I was on an airplane and I noticed there was a place for men’s blazers. What the hell? It seems a little off balance, and living for years as trans woman has shown me that.
"Nice people usually end up getting the short end of the stick, especially when it comes to media and entertainment. I think it’s just ironic that people in our queer culture –from where we are – want people who aren’t in our communities to let us into their spaces, to let us into the bathroom we want, to let us get married. That is about respect. We don’t want those people to tear us down, so why do we do it to each other?"
- Peppermint, season nine finalist
Top photo via VH1, red carpet photos Shelby Carney
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Brianna is a BUST editorial intern from Indiana. After finishing her bachelor's in telecommunication news and journalism from Ball State University, she went to Syracuse for her master's in arts journalism. She likes writing about movies, performance art and advocacy. You can follow her on Twitter @BriKirk, and reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.