- Peppermint, a trans entertainer and the runner-up on the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, spoke to Business Insider about what she’s been up to.
- In addition to hosting online events like “Black Queer Town Hall” and “It Gets Better: A Digital Pride Experience,” she’s been out protesting and creating art.
- She was at the oral arguments for the recent Supreme Court landmark ruling on LGBT employment antidiscrimination protections, and helped celebrate them at the historic Stonewall Inn — but she said there’s still much work to be done.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Drag — an art form which has a storied tradition of live performances — has had to quickly adapt to a world that has been forced online.
For drag superstar and trans entertainer Peppermint, the new frontier of drag has required some alterations.
“It’s pretty much pantsless, bottomless drag,” she told Business Insider. “You do your makeup and your head and your torso.”
At its core, she said, drag is “a language of fabulousness and fashion and feminism” that’s conveyed through many different mediums — whether that’s on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” where she was the runner-up during the competition’s ninth season, or the kind of virtual show becoming so popular in the coronavirus era.
And Peppermint has been at the forefront of queer digital experiences. She hosted the first annual “Black Queer Town Hall” over the weekend with Bob The Drag Queen, and will be hosting “It Gets Better: A Digital Pride Experience” from June 24 through 26. She’s also been out on the streets of New York; she spoke at a rally last week following the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on LGBT employment discrimination.
Ahead of the digital pride festival, Peppermint spoke to Business Insider about the current state of drag, the protests sweeping the nation, and the recent Supreme Court decision — and where we need to go next.
She said that the protests have been both ‘cathartic’ and ‘triggering’
The outpouring of protests following the death of George Floyd has already dramatically changed America. Peppermint, who is based in New York, said the protests have been great and “cathartic” — but also serve as a “triggering” reminder of how little things have changed.
“It seems like, I’m literally walking in my grandmother’s footsteps,” Peppermint said. “And here we are again, 50 years later, still doing the same thing.”
While she wasn’t able to make it to the Brooklyn Liberation march for Black trans lives, she said she was pleasantly surprised to see the historic turnout.
She said that she’s been happy to leverage her platform to talk about these things — and, in addition to contributing and marching and continuing the conversation, she’s been trying to heighten and create Black queer art.
“I want people to be able to see those images peppered in with images of that violence,” she said. She’s been making music — she has a new album coming out — and working on events like the Black Queer Town Hall, which aim to uplift Black queer voices.
Peppermint was at the October 2019 oral arguments for the landmark Supreme Court ruling on LGBT employment discrimination — and joined a rally at the Stonewall Inn afterward
On June 15, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applied to those in the LGBT community — meaning they are protected by antidiscrimination employment policies.
Peppermint said she was at the Supreme Court for the October 8 oral arguments — and that she thought it was the “most queer and diverse and trans that courtroom has ever been.”
After the ruling last Monday, she spoke at a rally at the historic Stonewall Inn. While the rally was preplanned, she said that the LGBT community in New York almost instinctively knows to gather there during significant moments in its history.
“It’s great to see we have a sort of home that we can go to during times of pain and celebration,” Peppermint said.
But the moment was still bittersweet, she noted: Aimee Stephens, the transgender woman at the heart of the cause, died in early May. And there’s still progress to be made. Peppermint said the next step is passing the Equality Act, which would further explicitly extend civil rights protection to the LGBT community. Currently, 48 senators are calling for it to be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.
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And, when it comes to immediate next steps, Peppermint said that she hopes to further “infuse” the LGBT movement with Black Lives Matter, “because those things are not separate.”
“They can’t be separate — I live in both, you know what I mean? It’s like separating, you know, feminism from the LGBT movement. It’s impossible.”
When it comes to what the country will look on the other side of protests and the pandemic, Peppermint said that she hopes we can “just live up to the promise of our country.”
“Obviously, our country has a history that’s marred with racism and misogyny and all the phobias, but if we can begin to really fulfill the promise of what’s said on paper, then, then maybe that’ll be a start.”
One of drag’s best-known shows — ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ — is currently airing its fifth season of ‘All Stars,’ where former queens come back to compete for the crown
I couldn’t let Peppermint off the line without asking for her thoughts on the current season of “Drag Race.” She said that she loved all of the queens competing, but she has a winner:
“Team Shea [Couleé] all the way,” she said. “That’s who I see it for.”