We have come a long way since Miss Aquaria won RuPaul's Drag Race. It's been two years and at least five seasons of the show (in its various permutations). The star has underscored herself as a look queen in the time since, and is currently the sole drag performer signed to IMG Models, and even has kept up the laughs with her recurring Melania Trump shtick. She's also continued to put on show-stopping performances. But there has definitely been some development in the queen.
One of the much-discussed topics during Drag Race season 10 was race. For the first time, the show was forced to confront its own relationship with racism due to the upfront, frank (and accurate) critiques by The Vixen who was not afraid to call a spade a spade. In a legendary, contentious, and incisive Untucked episode, the Chicago-based performer called out the power dynamic, and more importantly how it would play to the viewer.
“You say something, I say something, you start crying," The Vixen explained. "You have created the narrative that I am an angry black woman who has scared off the little white girl." The moment not only broke the fourth wall but critiqued those beyond it. But since the show (and even while it was airing) Aquaria has shown an ever-growing, understanding of the ways in which power and privilege work, and more importantly how she can leverage her position to change those things. In a recent appearance on Logo Live with Johnny Sibillly, Peppermint the history-making queen from season nine, spoke to this change.
As a part of the show, Sibilly gave Peppermint "a minute to stan someone that you think is doing amazing work in the community."
"Oh my gosh ... So I was talking about this person earlier," she began. "They are — I didn't really give them their props when they first won Drag Race and I was curious to see them grow into the adult that they grew into. I think they are fabulous. They really go to bat for people of all different identities. During BLM conversations they were right there front and center, willing to take criticism. 100 percent willing to jump in and challenge authority and speak truth to power, speaking truth to one of the most ultimate powers even within the Drag Race franchise— and you know who I'm talking about.
"Y'all I am talking about Aquaria, she is 100 percent the one," she finished. And yes, in 60 seconds flat.
What Peppermint said is accurate. Aquaria has routinely not only signal boosted various efforts to help marginalized her communities, but put her money where her mouth is and given to them. She has also done her part in confronting and addressing systems of oppression and even those unconsciously problematic moments in herself and those around her.
This summer, Aquaria took to Instagram stories to offer a challenge to RuPaul — "one of the most ultimate powers even within the Drag Race franchise" — and World of Wonder. In a video, she explained that she was looking at one of her latest monthly royalty check for her contributions to the cast recording of RuPaul's "American." The track debuted in episode 12 of the season.
The check, which was from March 2020 was for about $340. She multiplied that number by 24 (the number of months it had been since the episode aired) it's about $8,160. Rounding that number up to $8,200, the performer committed to donating that amount to the Black Trans Protestors Emergency Fund, a project created in partnership with Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, a collective of Black trans femmes dedicated to making spaces for themselves in the arts and beyond. She challenged Ru and WOW to match her effort. There is no indication that they have responded, which she called out in the days to follow.
The donation was one of many she has made to grassroots organizations this year.