Michelle Visage’s Words of Encouragement for the LGBTQ Community
Advocacy The “RuPaul’s Drag Race” standout reflects on decades of advocacy, personal experience and hopes for the future.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 30 years, you know Michelle Visage has been a super-fan of the LGBTQ community far and wide. A platinum-selling recording artist, author, TV personality, radio show host and a judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Visage can slay, shimmy and sashay her way across all platforms and never miss a beat.
Starting a relationship
She has fought for the LGBTQ community for decades. It started in high school. You know the story: closeted gay boy gets ridiculed, bullied and teased. No one stands up for him. Visage had enough of watching her classmate get aggressively bullied while everyone laughed. In that moment, she knew she needed to be heard for those who didn’t have a voice of their own.
After graduation, she moved from New Jersey to New York City for theater college. Visage started hanging out at the Christopher Street Piers. She made friends from the LGBTQ community, which introduced her to the trans and gay movements in the late 1980s.
Becoming an icon
RuPaul revolutionized drag by showing it as an art form, that anyone can do it, that everyone can be bigger and better and bolder. It teaches everyone, young and old, that they can do it, too. As Visage herself declares, “You don’t have to have a ‘body-ody-ody’ or be dusted to be kick-ass, you just have to be you."
“It’s our job to keep fighting until we no longer have to use the word ‘equality.’"
The show teaches families what it means for their sons, brothers and nephews to be drag queens. It’s an art. Talent and creativity are required.
Undeniably, the biggest achievement for the community has been the legalization of gay marriage in the United States. And although the stigma hasn’t cleared 100 percent, we are getting there. Yet there is so much work that still needs to be done.
“There’s nothing sadder than people within the community who see each other as competitors,” Visage adds. “We are in this together. Stand up together. Fight together. America and Americans might be fighting for these rights every day, but remember our brothers and sisters around the world who are still fighting for their right to just be themselves. Never mind marriage, adoption, insurance.”
Her biggest hope for the LGBTQ community and humanity is a cure for AIDS. “Kids these days … haven’t known the scare of living through an AIDS epidemic. They don’t know what that looks like,” offers Visage. “We need to educate them and teach them that there is a real threat out there.
“It’s our job to keep fighting until we no longer have to use the word ‘equality.’ We are all just humans — and are all equal.”