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Gia Gunn Doesn't Need Your Redemption

Gia Gunn eliminated from "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars" Season 4 by Manila Luzon.

If loving her All Stars run is wrong, we don’t want to be right.

There's an undeniable Catholic element to RuPaul's Drag Race: its confessionals, its rituals (mini challenge, main challenge, elimination), its punishments and its rewards. There's the ornate runway where the elimination ceremony is held (or, at least, the approximation of ornateness to the best that the budget will allow) and the Last Supper-esque judging panel where RuPaul and his disciples sit, moments before one of the queens is sacrificed. Or, maybe there's more of a holy trinity thing at play? The father, RuPaul, is trying to find a dragged out son to keep the holy spirit of his brand alive.

And then there are the narratives of redemption and salvation that grab us by the sacred heart and glue us to our screens. RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars, VH1's Drag Race spinoff where queens from past seasons return for a second (sometimes third) chance to compete, offers all kinds of redemption to its contestants. They can try to rehab their image after being cast as the villain in an earlier season (Roxxxy Andrews, Valentina). They might even want to use the All Stars platform to prove they're still a force to be reckoned with years after competing (Tatianna, BeBe Zahara Benet). All Stars offers so many paths to redemption, in fact, that it's kind of incredible that Gia Gunn chose none of them.

Gia, who placed 10th on season 6 and was a runner up on Chilean Drag Race spin-off The Switch, didn't seem all that interested in appearing nicer or more likeable than her first go on the series. Within moments of entering the workroom, she could be heard criticizing her competitors for their "hot glue" couture, their "kitchen table" silicone, and their je ne sais "not showgirls" levels of talent. Nor did she seem interested in letting her talents speak for themselves. After an impressive Kabuki performance in the season premiere's talent show, she seemed to put way more energy into workroom drama and fucking with "weakest link" Farrah Moan than into her girl group challenge performance (episode 2) or Snatch Game impersonation of nail artist Jenny Bui (episode 3), which led to her elimination on Friday night. In the end, she went home with no crown, no money (not even a $2,000 gift card to L.A. Eyeworks), nor any challenge wins.

Winning challenges wasn't necessarily her goal going into the show, Gia admits. "I chose the offer for All create good television," she says in a YouTube video uploaded after Friday night's episode. "And I'm not asking for anybody to forgive me here, but I am asking for people to understand that Drag Race, at the end of the day, is a competition about drag, but it is also very much so an entertainment show." But winning challenges might have balanced out her bad behavior, redeeming all that bitchiness in the eyes of many viewers.

And yet, I just don't care. I loved watching Gia unleash her charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent on her fellow competitors rather than "harness" it to win the competition, per RuPaul's ongoing suggestion. I loved the petty tribalism of seeing a trans girl in the workroom telling gay men they're "untalented and unoriginal" and declaring that "ME! HER! I'M TEAM HER!" without any consideration for her prospects at winning. I loved not caring whether Gia won All Stars, just like I loved not caring about whether her performance redeemed her bad behavior in the end -- which it absolutely did not. I could try to make some greater point about the pressures we put on trans women in the public eye, how we build them up so we can tear them down the second they don't live up to whatever expectations we've projected onto them, but I'd rather not disrespect Gia's All Stars run by trying to redeem it. Redemption is tired. Let the boys have it.

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