At the end of her season, Monét was chosen by her fellow queens as Miss Congeniality, and returned to the competition later that year for All Stars 4, which saw her being crowned in Drag Race’s first ever double win.
Since then, the queen of sponges has not stopped – touring the world, releasing music and even landing her own online talk show, which saw her sitting down for a one-on-one with RuPaul himself.
To mark Pride month, we caught up with Monét for our Over The Rainbow series, and she told us about why RuPaul remains her ultimate queer icon and why her new single has a more personal message behind it than your typical Drag Race offering...
What is your favourite Pride memory?
Probably the first Pride that I attended, which was in 2012. I was doing an opera summer programme, and with my friend Jasmine Rice – who is a popular queen in New York City – I got dressed up in full drag. That was my first time being in full, full drag, and we walked the whole New York City parade route from the beginning to the end in heels.
My feet were on fire because we decided to wear heels for the whole thing. We were in six-inch platform heels for about five miles. For the first half an hour it was fine, and then the pain sets in and you’re like, “this was not a good choice”. And we didn’t bring any change of shoes.
I still had a full-time job, I was working the overnight shift that night, so we got done at around 10 o’clock, and I had to be at work for 11. On my way driving to work I was trying to, like, de-drag and drive – and I didn’t have a corset, so we used a really old-school method of using duct tape to cinch my waist. I was taking it off, and I was ripping off chunks of flesh. It was crazy! Literally bleeding for my art.
Who is your LGBTQ hero?
Sylvester was someone who was doing the fucking thing before people knew what doing the thing was. To be in the 70s, to be so out, loud, proud and queer and doing these music videos in full drag and just being so fierce – Sylvester is such a fucking icon, he is a hero.
What is your go-to Pride anthem?
This year, specifically, my Pride anthem is my new single Love Like This, girl! It’s a reggae song, which was so trippy for me to do, because I was raised in St Lucia and reggae is such a big part of my family. We all listen to it when we have big family functions, and it’s the music I grew up on.
But when you grow up, you realise reggae can also be super homophobic and problematic. So when we decided to do this song, I was thinking, “I want to reclaim reggae for all of the queer folks out there who like it, but who don’t want to sing along to fucking Vybz Kartel and Beenie Man with their really problematic language in their songs”. You can listen to mine instead, and have that same vibe and have that sense of love and community that reggae provides.
What is your favourite LGBTQ film?
This might date me, but this is one of those movies that I would watch in secret when I was younger, and that’s The Broken Hearts Club. I don’t know if that’s even a popular movie for queer folks over there in the UK, but that was such a prolific movie for me when I was growing up.
It was one of those first gay movies that I ever saw, and I was so scared that people would even know that I knew what it was. It was really informative for me... it’s one of my classics that I love.
It’s the typical made-for-TV queer movie, it’s about these queer guys – one is the slut, one is a really good friend, one is the messy friend, and they’re all on this baseball team together. The older and knowledgeable gay dies, and they all mourn, and it brings them together, because at some point in the movie they all separate… it’s very, very, very cliché, but I loved it growing up, so it’s just nostalgia for me.
What was an LGBTQ TV show or TV moment that made you feel represented?
What I love about Will & Grace is that, at this point, it’s two decades old, but I still watch it and laugh out loud at it. And the jokes – even though they were of that time – they’re still super funny and somehow feel current. Not all shows age that well, but Will & Grace definitely stands the test of time.
But I remember the episode where they make fun of not having a gay kiss on TV, and Jack and Will finally have that kiss when they’re on that news programme. I remember seeing that on TV and being like, “oh my god”. So, that’s definitely a moment in TV that is super gay and I love.
Who would be your ultimate queer icon?
This might sound so cliché but RuPaul, girl, just for all that RuPaul has obviously done for the queer community. I feel like he gets such a short end of the stick, but RuPaul was fucking marching and fighting for the rights that I get to have now when I was a specimen in my father’s ballsack.
Not to mention all that he has done for drag. It’s because of RuPaul that drag queens are at the Oscars and the Emmys and the MTV Movie Awards and all these things.
When RuPaul comes down those stairs [in the Drag Race werk room] and obviously, the queens always have such a huge reaction and scream and carry on or whatever. And people are like, “that has to be so fake by episode 10”, and it’s like, “no – every time RuPaul opens that fucking workroom door and comes down those stairs, that is a genuine reaction the queens are having”. Girl, it’s RuPaul!
What is your message for young LGBTQ people this Pride month?
I say this every year, and I mean it, I mean it, I mean it. Around Pride time, a lot of the messaging is like “come out, let go of your inhibitions and just do it”. And my message to people is you come out when you are good and ready.
Don’t feel the pressure of your friends or associates, because people need to understand, coming out for a lot of people is a really big deal. Afterwards, you could be homeless, you could be friendless, you could be family-less, there are so many factors to coming out. So I always tell people to really take stock of what you may have to quote-unquote “lose”, and come out when you’re good and ready. Don’t feel the pressure.
Of course, Pride feels so liberating, right? You feel like you could literally jump off a building and fly. But always make sure that you are making the best decision for yourself. If that’s coming out right now, then do it. But if that means waiting another year or two or whatever – always make those decisions that are best for you in your life.
Monét X Change’s new single Love Like This is available to download and stream now.