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Drag Race's Widow Von'Du Has a Message for Survivors of Abuse 

Drag Race's Widow Von'Du Has a Message for Survivors of Abuse 

Widow Von'Du

The reality contestant spoke about conquering one's inner saboteur, activism in drag, and coming out as a survivor of abuse.

Things got political this week on RuPaul's Drag Race. After a strange mini-challenge involving cat drag, the queens competed in Choices, a faux presidential forum moderated by Jeff Goldblum and My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Rachel Bloom.

The contestants had various strategies for their presentations. Ultimately, Jaida Essence Hall won the day for her "Look over the there" distractions that sparked laughs and knowing nods about a tried-and-true political tactic. Jackie Cox and Widow Von'Du ended in the bottom; the former rested on the tired joke of being a closeted Canadian, while the latter took an overly zealous approach that elicited few chuckles.

In a nod to the democratic theme of the episode -- another reminder to register to vote at -- Cox and Von'Du performed a lip-synch to perhaps the most patriotic of the gay anthems, Katy Perry's "Firework."

Ultimately, it was Cox who prevailed while wearing a powerful statement in a stars-and-stripes hijab, which wowed the judges and sparked some debate. Von'Du also got political in her apparel, which was a nod to Black activism, but lost in the end.

Below, The Advocate spoke with Von'Du about conquering one's inner saboteur, activism in drag, and coming out as a survivor of abuse.

The Advocate: RuPaul warned that your inner saboteur was impacting your performance this season. How have you learned to fight against that doubt?
Widow Von'Du: Well, I had a lot of time to deal with it, and I have gotten my love and confidence back. My mind is in the right place now.

You were disappointed that you didn't perform better in the episode judged by Chaka Khan -- but then you ultimately slayed and won a lip-synch to one of her songs. What was that experience like for you?
I wanted to meet Chaka Khan and I wasn't going to disappoint.

Things got political this week on RuPaul's Drag Race. Who were some of your inspirations for the anger-focused politician you brought to the stage?
Those are the ones that always get the most attention. The ones that are loud and angry! If I am loud and angry, I'll probably get some more attention.

What message did you hope to send to viewers about the current political moment?
I hope that my overall performance on the show inspires people to include more art and music in schools so that everyone has the opportunity to become an entertainer and showcase their talents like I have been able to.

Do you really believe uneducated people are the problem with America?
I think people need to do more research so that they do not make uneducated decisions that shape our future.

You celebrated Black activists in your stars-and-stripes ensemble. Why was it important for you to bring that message to the runway?
I am tired of people seeing Black people as an afterthought, which is why it was important to showcase my Black Lives Matter outfit.

LGBTQ people and people of color are at-risk groups in Trump's America -- and especially vulnerable during a health crisis. How do you want to use your art and platform to fight for these communities?
I do hold Ru's words in my mind that every time you step on stage in drag, it is a political statement. If I keep showing people who I am, then I can help people show who they are and stop hiding in the shadows.

You shared how you are a survivor of abuse. What message do you hope your story sends to those in dangerous situations?
Do not stay and let someone abuse you. Your life is worth more than being someone's punching bag.

Where are you sheltering in place right now, and how are you staying safe and sane?
I am at my apartment in Kansas City, that is where you can find me. I am with my partner and have not gone crazy yet ... mostly!

What's next for you?
I am working on a full album titled The and putting together material for my tour, Yes, Bitch She Might Be on Tour.

RuPaul's Drag Race airs Fridays at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on VH1. Revisit Von'Du's lip-synch against Cox below.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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