As the weeks went on, she became an instant fan favourite, thanks to her one-liners, brilliant lip syncs and oh-so relatable moments both on the runway and in her confessionals.
To celebrate Pride month, we spoke to Tia for our Over The Rainbow interview series about why Alan Turing will forever be her queer icon, and her special message for young queer people...
What is your favourite Pride memory?
When I was about 14, I went to Pride with two friends who were definitely more queer and confidently out than I was. I was still quite shy and retiring, and seeing this entire world of people, it absolutely blew my mind. I was so shook and taken aback.
That’s a memory that I latch onto, because it reminds me how far I’ve come. From being shy and slightly overwhelmed by the entire experience of Pride, to being in full drag, screaming on top of a double decker bus during Pride. It’s a full 180.
Who is your LGBTQ Hero?
I chose to portray Alan Turing on Drag Race UK for good reason, because I wanted to celebrate someone who represents incredible advancements in science, and also just, like, defeating Nazis. Genuinely I’m not sure I can think of anything more iconic than inventing a computer and helping to stop Nazis. I think that’s pretty cool. It sounds like it’s the plot of some sort of dystopian future sci-fi film, but that was a real person, in real life. Which is absolutely amazing.
And then obviously to know that despite all of the incredible work that he did just because of his sexuality he was mistreated very heavily by the government, and condemned for it, which is gross and terrible, and in its way, another reminder of how far we’ve come and how we should celebrate the progress that’s been made.
Everyone knows the story about what happened to him afterwards, but I like to think of Alan and focus on the bad bitch working at Bletchley Park.
What is your go-to Pride anthem?
Outside In by Tia Kofi, available on iTunes. No…
I always go to the more 80s synthy moments. I think a bit of Pet Shop Boys, that’s always a boppy Pride vibe. Go West.
What is your favourite LGBTQ film?
So, when it comes to this sort of thing, I feel like I have quite silly taste, and I always want to go for a musical moment. So I think just to make it an accessible answer, I’m going to for The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
It’s fun, it’s bouncy, it’s absolute nonsense and, like, kind of hot at the same time. Which is my drag!
What was an LGBTQ TV show or TV moment that made you feel represented?
Oh, this is the easiest question ever. John Paul McQueen and Craig Dean on Hollyoaks. That honestly changed my life, I’m not even kidding. I fully related to that entire experience, given my life at school at the time with me and my then-best friend... basically, I was living out a very similar, real-life plotline. Very relatable content at that time.
Looking back, that storyline was probably extremely problematic, and maybe not executed in the right way. But at the time, I was like [gasps] they are me, I am them. They understand. They get me. So that was really game-changing.
But failing that, I think it was probably Philip Olivier in Speedos doing Channel 4’s The Games. Not technically a queer TV moment… but it was.
Who would be your ultimate queer icon?
Myself… no. Well, my genuine answer to that question is that it’s very humbling to come off the back of RuPaul’s Drag Race and be in a position where so many of us are able to be so visible and be those queer icons that younger people can look up to now.
So I think my actual answer to that is Bimini Bon Boulash. Bimini is absolutely crushing the game and bringing layers and layers of representation out there. So yeah, I actually do really look up to Bimini. But also I have her phone number and text her, so is that weird? Yes.
What is your message for young LGBTQ people this Pride month?
I think it’s important to remind people that they are valid and they’re part of a wider community that exists and is proud to exist. When you’re a young person in the middle of nowhere, you just need to be reminded that you’re not the only one.
You don’t exist solely in your bubble. It may feel like that, but there’s a big wide world of people who are proud to feel the same way as you. Your feelings, thoughts and emotions are all very valid, very important and very welcome.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Tia Kofi’s latest single Look What You’ve Done with Cahill is out now. Watch the music video below: