RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Ginny Lemon has said while the programme has “pushed boundaries,” they want contestants to be given the same post-show opportunities as other reality TV casts.
Lemon, known for their thick-rimmed glasses and signature shade of yellow, surprised viewers when they abandoned their lip-sync battle and left the stage in a shock week four exit during series two of the show, which first aired on BBC Three in January 2021.
The Worcester-born queen has since featured on Channel 4’s Celebrity Coach Trip and taken to the stage of some of the country’s largest venues for the series two tour of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, maintaining that while it is “great that queer entertainers are on Drag Race… I want to see them everywhere else”.
Lemon also said they want to see the same treatment given to Drag Race contestants as other reality stars, using ITV2’s Love Island as an example.
“Love Island is like the straight Drag Race – they’re all going and dressing up as these fantasy people that don’t exist,” Lemon told the PA news agency.
“And don’t get me wrong: I am friends with people who have been on Love Island and there are some glorious, wonderful people… It’s nothing personal.
“But afterwards, you see people from Love Island being invited to film premieres or getting on magazines and you see all this press and attention towards these people who have effectively been through the same process (as Drag Race).
“If you’re the height of X Factor fame, you’re invited to the red carpets.
“But if you’re the height of a queer-led show, you’re still fighting very hard to see at least one of us there… You know, you see one person from Drag Race and 10 people from Love Island.
“Why in reality TV are we able to churn some people out and treat them much better than others?”
Lemon started practising drag after the sudden death of their sister in 2016, using it as a “coping mechanism” but finding joy in performing and the “very healing” colour yellow.
They were one of two non-binary stars on series 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK alongside runner-up Bimini Bon Boulash and said having a “natural, free-flowing conversation” about their experience coming to identify as non-binary was “the best thing I ever did on that show”.
“I was talking to Sister Sister and then Bimini heard and she came over, and we had such a beautiful conversation, which I always say was just one human talking to another human at that time,” they said.
“For me, it’s amazing to open that conversation to so many different people.
“Having that open intent and open mind, I’ve definitely learned to not judge people and expect different things.”
Lemon also spoke about interacting with fans since exiting the show and adjusting to life in the spotlight.
“I remember in Malvern, having a little shop run and this guy comes to me – ordinarily, this is the person that I would avoid, thinking, ‘Oh my god, there’s going to be some homophobia’,” they said.
“I’ve got this straight old white man, and he basically told me he loved the show, that I was his favourite and his family loved the show.
“And it was such a lovely thing… I thought, this is somebody that 10 years ago, I would have run away from them if I’d seen them, but now they’re open to that conversation.”
And while the show has “pushed boundaries,” they would like to see drag and LGBTQ+ representation beyond RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“It’s great that queer entertainers are on Drag Race, but I want to see them everywhere else,” Lemon said.
“Representation on Drag Race has been good to highlight it – but now we need to expand it out.
“I think that’s the bigger picture.”
They added it would be “bloody great” to see more transgender and non-binary storylines in the reality sphere and on wider television.
“We need more of that representation, more trans storylines, more non-binary storylines… It would be great to have a trans lead character that doesn’t talk about them being trans – that would be a bloody great thing to see,” they said.
“Drag Race has been good for pushing those boundaries, but I want to see more… I want to see queens competing on other shows (and) not just your favourite girls.
“I think it also (requires) the people at the top taking risks – we live in 2022.
“The world has changed so much over the past 20 years.
“Why can’t we hustle and shake and see more representation of these glorious, beautiful, amazing queer people that we should be seeing?”