By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com May 06 2014 12:26 PM ET
The drag performer known as Alaska Thunderfuck has apologized for filming a controversial video that portrays a futuristic RuPaul shooting a transgender blogger in the head, saying the video has been removed and pledging to strike language that others consider transphobic from his future performances.
Thunderfuck, née Justin Andrew Honard, called into the Chicago-based podcast Feast of Fun Monday night, when hosts Marc Felion and Fausto Fernós welcomed The Advocate's trans issues correspondent, Parker Marie Molloy, onto the show.
"I really wanted to just talk to you, because I want to apologize for the video," Honard began, after Molloy and the hosts recounted the controversy sparked after The Huffington Post's Gay Voices published a post promoting the video, calling it "hilarious."
In the clip, titled RuPaul's Drag Race Season 76, Honard, as Thunderfuck, portrays a futuristic RuPaul who is frustrated by the "word-policing" of a transgender Twitter activist, named "Joy Less," who has a bright blue wig, a deep voice, and a mustache. After Joy takes issue with RuPaul's use of the words "men," "women," and "win," Thunderfuck's RuPaul pulls out a hair dryer and shoots Joy in the head, showing the blogger falling to the ground with a bullet wound in her forehead before RuPaul victoriously shouts a transphobic slur.
In an emotional soliloquy Monday evening, Honard said he had listened to the response surrounding his video and took to heart the critiques he heard from those who said they were hurt by the attempt to "parody" the all-too-real and systemic violence against transgender women.
"I realized that it was hurting people's feelings," said Honard. "I feel like I want to be in a world and in a community where we can be kinder to one another, because that is never going to hurt. … And that should start with myself."
Honard confirmed that he has removed the video from YouTube, and he has published a follow-up clip where the characters reunite and sing a song about the strength of friendship.
In the Monday podcast Honard also weighed in on the subject of so-called language policing, generally used in this discussion in regard to trans activists who continue to ask members of the drag and LGB communities to stop using words they — and GLAAD — find derogatory. Although Honard's initial video skewered such requests as an overreach of political correctness, he told Feast of Fun Monday that if trans people don't want drag queens using certain words, performers shouldn't use them.
He also said that acquiescing to the requests of activists and writers like Molloy does not dilute or weaken his performance or his drag persona.
"I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings," Honard said, choking back tears. "That is the last thing I want to do with my work or with my life, and so if it is, and it was, and it has, then really, the least I can do is take down that poorly made, piece of shit video. That does not water-down my art. I think it makes it richer, and I think, moving forward … I just want to do better."
Additionally, Honard told Molloy that he hadn't developed the character of Joy Less to intentionally mirror her, though several bloggers have pointed out striking similarities between the actual trans activist and Thunderfuck's parody character.
Molloy accepted Honard's apology as well as an invitation for the two to sit down to a cup of coffee. She said she was encouraged by the conversation and by Honard's genuine apology, and she agreed that with his assertion that if drag and trans communities could work together, they would create a powerful union.
"If we took the passion and the conviction that the activist trans community has and we combined it with this over-the-top marketable charisma of drag, I feel like if we worked together, we could really effect major social change and world change," Honard told Molloy. "I'm glad that your community, and our community, was outspoken enough to let me know that I was out of line. And I think that we can work together and do really good things."
Listen to the hour-long podcast, which includes discussion of Molloy's history with The Huffington Post, commentary on trans billionaire Jennifer Pritzker, and several other trans-related topics, here.