How it feels to be the first transgender winner of Drag Race
Angele Anang made history last week.
She became the first ever trans woman to land first place in the history of the Ru Paul’s Drag Race franchise.
The Thai contestant took home the top prize when the second season of Drag Race Thailand ended on Friday (5 April).
‘You worked hard and you showed the world you are an amazing artist and an amazing human being,’ co-host Pangina Heels said of Angele.
She is the first queen ever to win five challenges in a row and beat the record for most challenge wins in a single season. Overall, she won a total of six challenges, beating BenDeLaCreme’s former record of five.
But, Drag Race has a contentious history with transgender representation.
Last year, creator and co-host of the original US show RuPaul, came under fire for his comments about trans contestants. He initially said he wouldn’t accept a trans contestant, and though that has changed, many still criticized him for his stance.
There have only been a handful of trans contestants in the franchise’s global history.
Gay Star News spoke to Angele:
How does it feel to win Drag Race Thailand?
It is unbelievable. From the beginning of the race. I never thought I was going to win or even be in the top three. But, I did everything from my heart, gave it everything and it paid off at that moment. I am so proud of myself.
How have your family and friends reacted?
Everyone has been crazy. My friends and family are so happy. Even my father has been so proud of me. He had never seen my performances before. Never in the past eight years that I have been working in the show industry. Friday was the first time. I am so glad he was there watching and being included in my performance. There are no words to describe how I feel.
How was the competition?
I found out about the competition through social media. After I passed the auditions, it was as I expected. I prepared myself for it: the challenges, the competition, the pressure, everything. It was fun, but it was also very depressing. We have only a little time to do, make, and learn for each and every challenge. But it makes us better and better. It is like training.
There were a lot of good moments and lots of memories. I love communicating with the International queens. I loved talking to the other queens about our funny moments. The worst time was when I was so so stressed. I didn’t like myself during these times. But, when the stress turned into good work I loved it. But, if it didn’t turn out well I would be even more stressed.
Of course, the best moment was when I won!
What was your favorite outfit and why?
Green curry with beef. It was the hardest challenge in the game and I made the idea come true all by myself. I sewed the whole dress myself by hand. And the shoes, and the headpiece. I loved the makeup in that challenge.
Why did you enter Drag Race Thailand?
When I was young, I loved performing so much. I loved to show off my dancing. I didn’t like to study but I loved to perform at the events at school. My dream, when I was young, was to be a dancer girl. My mom was the only who supported me in my passion. But, she passed away 10 years ago. My father wanted me to run the family business. He is the owner of an engineering factory.
At the time I was doing this job I became a little gay boy. I was trying to act like a man and have a boyfriend. After I broke up with my first boyfriend everything was torn down. It was like the world had ended. My heart was broken and I went back to myself and grew my hair.
I ran away from home during the night and I became a showgirl in Bangkok. I was there for three years before I got a lead. This is very fast for a showgirl. I quickly became the Beyonce of Thailand in the showgirl industry. I was performing the same thing every day for three years. So I got used to it and wanted to do something else. That’s when I became a freelance drag queen.
What is it like to be the first transgender winner of Drag Race?
I feel it is such an honor, it was so unexpected. No one within the drag community has ever discriminated against me. We don’t have that in Thailand. Because a lot of drag queens in Thailand were inspired by transgender showgirls in the theater or in the bar or anywhere. And now the trans showgirl is inspired by the drag queen too. So, for here, it is the same community just different format. We are inspired by each other.
What would you say to people that exclude transgender people from the drag community?
I understand their point that drag queens were about gay men dressing as women to be free. But a transgender woman was a male before and they are in drag for their whole life. And I think the art of drag is for everyone. It is getting bigger and bigger now.
What is the drag scene like in Thailand?
It actually first came from a beautiful thing. Drag artists were inspired by women’s vanity. And it became a show. A long time ago. They performed beautifully on the stage without breast surgery. They lived their lives as a guy and didn’t even call this ‘drag’.
Then, it went further when the person really wanted to become a woman and live their whole life with this beautiful thing. This is the drag transgender culture in Thailand. But, yes, there are some transgender women who do not perform.
To be a transgender in Thailand is totally fine. It has been like this since quite a long time ago. There might be some sexism from guys, but very little. Thai People are so lovely. They relate and understand and also admire us to be ourselves.
What is next for you?
I want to be an actress, on television or in the movies. Or, I wanna be on tour. That would be fun. I want to meet drag fans all over the world.
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Author: Rik Glauert