Fighting for marriage equality runs in RuPaul's family.
The world's most famous drag queen appeared in an upcoming episode of Finding Your Roots to learn about his genealogy — and a surprising parallel emerged.
The host of the PBS documentary series, Henry Louis Gates Jr., revealed to RuPaul that his great-great-grandparents Isaac and Annie had been marriage pioneers. According to discovered documentation, they were wed in 1870 — just five years after the end of the Civil War, which marked the end of slavery and the beginning of when African-Americans could legally be married in the United States.
"If you were a slave, legal marriage did not exist because you were property," Gates explained. "So after the Civil War, lots of Black people who had been in loving relationships got married as soon as they could. And there's the marriage record. What do you think it meant to your ancestors finally to have the right to marry?"
RuPaul, who wed his longtime partner Georges LeBar in 2017, merely two years after same-sex marriage became legal throughout the U.S., appeared emotional in the below clip shared exclusively with The Advocate.
"The obvious thing for me is, you know, I'm married, and it's an interesting thing," RuPaul replied. "Two men have just now recently been given the right to marry, and this ... mirrors what was happening then, and how people, humans on this planet can keep people who love each other apart. So that parallel is pretty interesting."
Gates added, "And it reminds us that rights that we take for granted haven't been there forever and could be taken away again. So we have to be vigilant."
His remark reverberates in a time when the future of Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 Supreme Court case that established marriage equality, is uncertain as the nation's highest court anticipates the addition of a new conservative justice — and a decidedly right-wing tilt. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas have already called for overturning it.
RuPaul and fellow style icons Diane Von Furstenberg and Narciso Rodriguez receive some other surprising family revelations in their episode of Finding Your Roots. Find out what they are Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern on PBS. Watch the clip below.