Even though LGBTQ+ representation hasn’t always been at the forefront of most mainstream reality shows, we’ve definitely come to meet several fascinating queer reality stars who went on to win their seasons or make a huge splash on television. Thankfully, some of these celebrities used their platform to land regular gigs for themselves in a position where they’re the ones calling the shots.
Scroll through to check out which LGBTQ+ reality stars went on to become judges and hosts on reality TV competitions!
As one of the breakout stars in the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye, Tan France capitalized on his exposure and landed a gig as one of two hosts on Next in Fashion – a fashion design reality competition series on Netflix.
JoJo Siwa made her reality TV debut on two seasons of Dance Moms on Lifetime. Over time, she competed on shows like The Masked Singer and Dancing With the Stars. Then, in 2022, Siwa appeared as one of the judges for season 17 of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, which felt a literal full-circle moment in her life and career.
Brooke Lynn Hytes was a standout contestant in season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, finishing as the runner-up behind Yvie Oddly. In any case, she went on to become the host of Canada’s Drag Race – which has now run for three seasons (with a fourth on the way) and one Versus the World spinoff.
After emerging as the winner of Top Chef season 10, Kristen Kish embarked on an incredible career as a chef. In 2023, Kish was hired to become the new host of Top Chef following the exit of long-standing host Padma Lakshmi.
Carson Kressley was originally known for appearing in the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy series. Over the years, he also competed on Celebrity Big Brother. As a fashion expect, though, Kressley was hired as a recurring judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and has appeared in the judging panel for several seasons now.
After being a breakout star in the seventh season of Drag Race and going on to win All Stars 3, Trixie Mattel has built a multimedia empire that includes a makeup brand, a motel, and several digital series, to name a few. In recent years, Trixie also earned herself a place in the judging panel of Queen of the Universe, a singing competition for drag performers that ran for two seasons on Paramount+.
Speaking of Queen of the Universe: Grag Queen competed in the first season of the show representing her country, Brazil. After walking away as the season one winner of Queen of the Universe, Grag was ultimately chosen to host the Drag Race Brasil series.
Cardi B – ‘Rhythm + Flow’
Cardi B first made a name for herself as a regular cast member on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: New York, but then blew up with the song “Bodak Yellow” and became one of the most successful hip hop artists of our generation. In 2019, Cardi sat alongside T.I. and Chance the Rapper as the main judges of Netflix’s reality competition Rhythm + Flow.
Ted Allen – ‘Chopped’
Ted Allen is another Queer Eye for the Straight Guy OG who has evolved his reality TV career from cast member to judge. Since 2009, Allen has been hosting Chopped and Chopped Junior on the Food Network.
Ts Madison has been a social media star for many years, even back to the years of TikTok precursor Vine. When it comes to television, Madison made a huge splash with the reality series The Ts Madison Experience. She then secured herself a spot as recurring judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race – becoming the first trans woman to appear as a main judge on the show.
Christian Siriano – ‘Project Runway’
Christian Siriano won the fourth season of Project Runway and, over the years, became the most successful fashion designer in the history of the series. Starting with season 17, Siriano was hired by Project Runway to appear as a mentor to the contestants, making this a full-circle moment for his career.
Drag Race season two and All Stars 1 runner-up Raven became a judge of her own WOW Presents Plus reality competition Painted With Raven. She also appeared in the judging panel of episode seven of Drag Race UK season four.
Ross Mathews was featured as a contestant on the very first season of Celebrity Big Brother, finishing as the runner-up. Over time, Mathews has established his place as a recurring judge on the flagship Drag Race series and its All Stars seasons.
As a breakout star of Drag Race season 10 and season 11, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo landed her very own dating show on WOW Presents Plus titled Vanjie: 24 Hours of Love. She did end up with a boyfriend in the end, but they have since broken up.