Michelle Visage has been a fiercely loyal ally for decades (Picture: BBC/Metro.co.uk)
RuPaul’s Drag Race superstar Michelle Visage turned to LGBTQ+ allyship after being bullied at school.
The 53-year-old, who serves as a permanent judge on the beloved World Of Wonder series, has been a fiercely loyal ally of the community for decades, having found her tribe of drag performers in the New York ballrooms of the 1980s.
Michelle’s unpleasant formative years pushed her to become a ferocious protector of marginalised people that many around the globe see her as today.
Speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, she shed light on her traumatic youth which saw her ostracized and alone. ‘As a younger kid, I never really fit in,’ she recalled.
‘I was picked on and bullied and could never understand why I didn’t have people that would have my back. I think that’s why I became such a staunched ally because I didn’t have people when I got picked on or bullied that would defend me.’
‘I would tell my younger self that I am loved, I am worthy and I’m okay just the way the way I am because I didn’t hear that, and nobody can hear that enough,’ Michelle continued.
Michelle found strength in her LGBTQ+ allyship after being bullied at school (Picture: Getty)
‘I tell my kids to look in the mirror and tell themselves “I love you” and it’s so crazy how we struggle telling ourselves when we can tell strangers so easily.’
Michelle is beyond proud of the impact RuPaul’s Drag Race has had on the LGBTQ+ and drag community since its first episode aired in 2009. ‘I think it’s changed the way drag has been perceived,’ she tells us.
‘I grew up in this community and drag was always marginalised even within the community. Growing up in New York in the late 80s, I was a drag fanatic and people within the community and the ballroom scene that I grew up in were like “no girl”.
‘Queer people in the community saying this about queer artists, they just didn’t get my obsession, so they were equally as marginalised drag queens.
‘I always knew what an art form drag was and now drag is being validated as a viable art form because of RuPaul’s Drag Race.’
Michelle is in awe of drag queens and has championed their art for years (Picture: Getty)
‘It’s so rewarding to these artists,’ Michelle added. ‘I feel like a mother seeing their kids getting an award, each and every one of those queens – and not just on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Anybody who gets in a wig and a corset is a hero to me.’
Besides being a staunch ally, Michelle is a mental health advocate. After recently suffering her first panic attack in years while stuck in a quarantine hotel in New Zealand, she realised the importance of physical exercise and the correlation it has on the mind.
‘I suffered from anxiety in the past, but I haven’t had an anxiety attack in many years because I know how to deal with them,’ she said. ‘When I was on day seven, I started having panic attacks.’ Michelle decided to test herself to see how her mental health would improve if she did yoga for five minutes each day. This then increased to 15 minutes, half an hour, and so forth.
Michelle serves as a permanent judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race (Picture: Getty)
Michelle has teamed up with Asics for their new campaign to get people moving for 15 minutes and nine seconds this June.
‘Every day I’d do half an hour of yoga,’ she continued. ‘I’m terrible at it but I felt so great after the yoga sessions that I could take on the whole day. So, when I was talking to Asics about it and they were doing this campaign for mental health awareness, this just spoke to me.’
‘I’ve changed my life, I’ve changed my body,’ Michelle added. ‘I’ve got muscles where I didn’t think I could at my age. I feel like a new woman because of exercise and because of movement.
‘It clears my mind and cleanses my soul. It’s not just about getting guns and being buff, it’s about the mental.
Asics has teamed up with Michelle Visage to get people moving for 15 minutes and 9 seconds this June.
Every video or image posted using #ASICS1509 will help to raise funds for Mind.
To find out more visit: https://www.asics.com/nl/en-nl/mk/1509-uplift-challenge
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