In a clip of PBS’s genealogy reality show Finding Your Roots, drag superstar RuPaul learned that he’s connected to his ancestors in more ways than he thought. In a moving new clip from the show, we see that just like RuPaul himself, his ancestors also were marriage pioneers, wedding shortly after they were given the right to do so.
In the episode, host Henry Louis Gates Jr., showed RuPaul documents that show his great-great-grandparents Isaac and Annie got married in 1870, just five years after the end of the Civil War and the beginning of marriage rights for African-Americans in this country.
The profound similarities between their marriage and RuPaul’s to his longtime partner Georges LeBar were not lost on the icon. His great-great-grandparents got married five years after it was legal, and RuPaul and LeBar were married just two years after 2015’s landmark Supreme Court case Obergefell vs. Hodges, which established marriage equality as the law of the land.
“The obvious thing for me is, you know, I’m married,” he said. “t’s an interesting thing. Two men have just now recently been given the right to marry and this mirrors what was happening then, and how people, humans on this planet, can keep people who love each other apart.”
Gates replied that it also shows just how fragile and hard-fought those rights are. “And it reminds us that rights that we take for granted haven’t always been there forever and could be taken away again,” he said, “So we have to be vigilant.”
This is especially relevant right now. From discriminatory laws banning trans girls from playing school sports, to so called “religious exemption” laws, to radically conservative Supreme Court Justices actually calling for an overturning of Obergefell vs. Hodges itself, the Republican Party has been doubling down on anti-LGBTQ+ since Trump was elected president.
The episode airs on PBS tomorrow, Tuesday, at 8pm ET. Other celebrities featured in the episode include Diane Von Furstenberg and Narciso Rodriguez.