Feature writing

Stonewall 50

Alaska Thunderfuck: ‘I Would Like to See the Breakdown of the Binary Way of Looking at Gender and Sexuality’

The Daily Beast

June 14, 2019

As Stonewall 50 looms, the ‘Drag Race’ star says: ‘We still have a long way to go. Queer kids are being bullied at school, and in many places in the world it is illegal to be gay.’

Alaska Thunderfuck was runner-up on the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and winner of the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.

When/how did you first hear about the Stonewall Riots, and what did you make of them?

I think I first learned about Stonewall in Queer Theatre class at the University of Pittsburgh. It made me mad that queer people out at bars could be raided and arrested and harassed by the police just for being who they were. We also learned that they happened right around the funeral of Judy Garland, and so I can imagine the mixture of grief and outrage and oppression coming to a boiling point and these individuals saying, “We’re not going to take this shit anymore.”

What is their significance for you?

Stonewall was the visible moment that started a movement. Queer people started coming more and more out of the closet and into the light, demanding visibility and legal, fair treatment. We’ve come a long way since then, surely, but this is a fight we’re still fighting today.

How far have LGBT people come since 1969?

We’ve definitely made strides as far as representation in the mainstream media. We have a show on TV about drag queens, which happens to be my favorite show. We also have a gay man being considered for a presidential candidate. While this is all progress, we still have a long way to go. Queer kids are still being bullied at school, and in many places in the world it is still illegal to be gay.

What would you like to see, LGBT-wise, in the next 50 years?

I would like to see the breakdown of the binary way of looking at gender and sexuality. It is neither one or the other. And it shouldn’t be. The more these things get loosened up and talked about and de-stigmatized—and become something we can freely talk about and laugh about—the better this world will be for everyone. That’s why I think we should put women in charge, because they’re generally less hung up about these things.