As the newest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race begins, the first Canadian contestant on the franchise, Brooke Lynn Hytes, is dealing with her past on social media.
In a 2013 Instagram post that has since been removed, Hytes appeared with another drag queen, who was in blackface.
“It recently came to my attention that an old photo of me with another drag queen who is in black face surfaced,” Hytes wrote in an Instagram post this week. “I had posted the photo to my Instagram in 2014 and I included the hashtag ‘blackface.’ This post was irresponsible on my part; it was rooted in ignorance and came from a place of naivety and privilege.”
The news came only weeks after season 11 contestant Ariel Versace made a statement addressing her own 2014 performance, which recreated the events of 9/11 for comedic effect.
In 2013, the Toronto-based drag queen Daytona Bitch performed at Crews & Tango, a local drag bar that hosts its own “Drag Race.” According to Daily Xtra, Bitch was a judge for that year’s event and turned up to a Caribbean Heat-themed night dressed up as Miss Cleo. Along with a headwrap and presumed Caribbean stylings, Bitch had darkened the appearance of her skin. According to reports, Bitch went further and tagged an image of herself from the night with the word “racist.” Backlash on Facebook caught on before the night had ended. Two days later, her gig performing at Pride Toronto was cancelled.
Hytes’ resurfaced selfie with Bitch, seems to originate from from this night as she attended the event.
“I take responsibility for this and deeply apologize to everyone,” she wrote. She did not appear in blackface in the image. “In the six years since the post I have learned, grown and evolved as a person and I am ashamed that this less informed version of myself might be some followers’ first impression of me and what I stand for. That post was an uninformed mistake that is not indicative of my politics or beliefs. However, my lack of understanding back then is no excuse. I know I should have done better at that time.”
The statement is a curious one. While Hytes may have certainly grown and evolved as a person — she was Miss Continental 2014, a renowned title in drag pageantry, shortly after — this criticism would have been, and was, present at the time of the post, directed at Bitch. The insinuation that Hytes may not have known that something was awry at the time, when Bitch was dropped from gigs for this very thing, seems illogical.
“Please let me reiterate that I absolutely do not condone any form of racism, including but not limited to black face and it saddens me to think about how I have contributed to those harmful ideals in the past,” she wrote in her statement. “I hope you can accept my sincerest apology and give me a chance to show you who I truly am today and to move forward a kinder, more critically aware artist and person.”