The RuPaul Drag Race star discusses the season 13 finale, the importance of representation, and how to fight transphobia.
RuPaul’s Drag Race has crowned a new America’s Next Drag Superstar. And the winner is… Symone! But Gottmik, the first trans man to compete in the VH1 reality competition, is still a winner, baby.
Below, Gottmik, who uses she/her pronouns in drag, discusses the finale, history-making trans representation, and shares a message for her fans.
This interview was conducted just prior to the Drag Race finale.
The Advocate: First of all, how are you? How are you holding up during this crazy year?
Gottmik: I’m so good. I literally just got my second vaccine today. I’m living. I’m ready to get back into life. … I’m a Moderna angel.
What’s the first thing you’re looking forward to being fully vaccinated?
Potentially, finding a vax-for-vax angel on Grindr probably. I miss it so much!
What’s your dream angel like?
It’s been so long I don’t even have a dream angel anymore; just please, anyone! Oh, my God, the pandemic got me good.
Amen to that! And congratulations on making it to the Top Four. How are you feeling?
I feel so amazing, like I can’t even describe it. It’s just the best feeling in the world. I feel like I’m just so unstoppable and I came in here and did exactly what I wanted to do and said exactly what I wanted to say and I’m so ready to push it even further after the show in the real world.
What would it mean to you to be crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar?
It would mean so much to me, becoming America’s Next Drag Superstar. Going in here, I just wanted to show a new side of drag. I wanted to show that it’s not what everyone thinks it is. It’s not just boys dressing up in drag. Trans women created drag, and on top of that, there’s other people on other parts of the spectrum that are also doing drag and exploring. And even beyond me, there’s even more that we haven’t heard from. So crowning me I think would just be showing everyone that this is just the tip of the iceberg and we have to keep pushing the limits and crushing the system and keep fighting for all forms of artistry and all forms of drag to be valid and shown on a major level and platform.
You’ve already made history as a trans man competing on Drag Race. How does that feel in and of itself?
It feels so amazing. Going into the show, I talked about it, I just didn’t have anyone growing up that was like me. It kept me from transitioning and living my truth for so long. So I was like, OK, well, this isn’t maybe valid? I don’t see anyone in the world like me. And then now, being on the show and telling my story, there are so many people that messaged me just saying thank you and that they connect to me. I am doing what I wanted someone to do for me for so many people. I can’t even wrap my head around it. It’s just so magical — just imagining me wanting that and then now I’m that person for people. So I’m very happy.
It was so heartwarming to see you connect with RuPaul during the podcast interview. Were you surprised to have that connection with him?
I was beyond, beyond, beyond surprised to have that connection with him. Going on the show, I just didn’t really know what to expect. And then, especially at the beginning of show, I was so nervous, and just like not had fully come into my own yet in the first two episodes. And so I think when I started opening up and being myself, RuPaul started to warm up to me. And then when we started just having those little judge critiques moments where we would just laugh so hard and like those little walk-around moments … it felt like I was kiki-ing with my friend. And then by the time that Tic Tac lunch moment came around, it was game over, crying, laughing until the cameras were off. I was off the stage and she was still laughing. It is beyond and you’re gonna see in the finale, it just gets worse. We just are too much together.
I want to see that spin-off!
Oh, my God, same. It’s just amazing because she’s obviously such a role model to me and the fact that we get along the way we do, I’m like, What is going on? Every time I stopped talking to her, I’m like, What was that?!
Did you have any reservations before going on the show? There’s been a few trans contestants, but it hasn’t had the most trans-inclusive history.
Luckily, [I] do makeup for a lot of drag queens and know a lot of the trans women that were on the show before me, and they told me their experience. And for the most part, most of them were pretty positive as well. So I was really nervous to go in because mine is a different perspective. And I just wanted to make sure I was saying the right thing and doing the right thing for the show’s level and for just me trying to be a good advocate and tell my story. But when I got in there and started having fun, I just realized that I’m there for a reason and me being my most authentic self is the reason that people are connecting with me. And so I just started telling my story from the most authentic truth place, as if I was talking to my friends at home. And it just worked and it was just so much fun and amazing to watch back.
In American politics, we’re seeing this unprecedented wave of transphobic legislation passed by conservatives. What’s your reaction to that, and how you hope to use your visibility to counter that kind of hatred?
Being visible is … the most powerful thing in the world. Just be your true authentic self and tell your story and tell your journey because you are going to attract people like you or people that share a similar story. There [is] just power in numbers. So the louder we can get everyone together and [the] stronger we can get everyone together to stand up and show the haters and show Hollywood and show everyone in the world that the queer community is the community. We’re here to stay. We all need platforms to tell our stories and make a difference in the world and crush the system because that’s how it’s gonna work. Even if you’re not into my drag, just be behind what I’m doing and what it represents right now. Just be loud and be like OK, I’m not a huge fan of Gottmik, but love where were going with this! Support trans voices and every letter of that fuckin’ alphabet out there. Just support and push it forward. Because, just my story being my story on the show, just opened my eyes up to how many stories were missing out on by Hollywood and these people not giving more trans people voices. We’ve got to be loud!
You surprised yourself with how much you loved the acting challenges. Are you still considering a career in Hollywood?
Beyond. Like you have no idea how excited I am to get this career a-going after this pandemic. People are going to actually be mad about how much I’m going to attempt to do even when I’m probably not the best at it. I’m just going to try everything because it’s like, what’s the point? You only live once. Gorge!
Do you have a message for your fans who are rooting for you?
I want to thank my fans so for supporting me and my journey. I had a better reaction than I ever could have even imagined. And just seeing [me] open so many people’s minds and seeing everyone share their stories with me in my DMs, it’s just so insane to see that. I am the person that I wanted in the media for so many people like I was saying. It’s just so crazy, so I just want to thank you, and keep sharing your stories. Because I see them, I really do, and I love you all.