Season nine winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Sasha Velour, spoke with Matthew Wade about growing up in a rural town, her love of drag, and its political importance.

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The moment drag is no longer fun for her, Sasha Velour says she will quit.

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The gender non-conforming winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race’s ninth season has had a relatively sleepless year since being crowned, travelling from country to country to perform for her adoring fans.

“As soon as I get into drag each night the passion and energy fills my life,” she says.

Velour can pinpoint the moment she first got into drag, and what inspired her to pursue it.

She was three years old and her parents had showed her The Wizard of Oz.

“I was traumatised by the wicked witch of the west but then I started dressing up as her and doing all her scenes,” she says.

“Slowly, I found my way into making it real, and here we are.”

Growing up in both rural Connecticut and rural Illinois, Velour was surrounded by environments that weren’t readily welcoming of queer people, something she struggled with for some time.

“They weren’t the most welcoming of gender non-conforming people, so I tried to hide those aspects of myself, and channel my queerness in other ways, like through visual art,” she says.

“I think the biggest struggle was getting through my internalised shame and realising that my identity was nothing to be ashamed about.

“It’s actually the source of my greatest power, but it took me longer to realise than most.”

Velour acknowledges that younger generations are surrounded by far more acceptance and support these days, something she thinks is incredible.

“People in today’s generation have so many more affirming voices around them,” she says.

“Young people can grow up believing they’re exceptional and exquisite and beautiful.”

As someone who was positioned as the arty, intellectual queen on her season of Drag Race, Velour has used her platform since to highlight the political power in drag.

She says she’s thrown herself into research around the history of drag.

“Drag represents the entirety of the LGBTI community,” she says.

“There’s someone from every letter; drag queens, drag kings, non-binary people… it’s really an art form where everyone talks about their experiences.

“So I think drag has always been poised to provide insight into the issues queer communities face.

“We need to help address the needs of our community and the direction that we need to be fighting for, no matter what kind of mainstream attention drag gets, it’s always going to be for our community.”

Sasha Velour Live and in Colour will be touring Australia from January 9 – 17. For more information or to buy tickets visit: itdevents.com/tours/sasha.

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