This article originally appeared on columbusunderground.com.
Yuhua Hamasaki is a contestant on the current season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality show where drag queens perform and compete for the title of America’s next drag superstar.
Hamasaki is Chinese American and identifies as gender fluid, which is largely overlooked in drag. With her time on Drag Race, Hamasaki wants to open minds, break stereotypes and celebrate who she is. She doesn’t allow anyone to place her in a box, she says. Instead, she chooses to incorporate her identity into her style and performances, challenge preconceived notions and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
Hamasaki is currently touring cities across the country, with a stop in Columbus this Friday, May 4 at Axis Nightclub. Ahead of the show, she discusses gender identity, heritage, her new music video, and competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race as the show’s first Chinese American contestant.
TAIJUAN MOORMAN: WHEN DID YOU FIRST START EXPERIMENTING WITH YOUR GENDER IDENTITY?
Yuhua Hamasaki: Probably as young as 4 years old. My mom was doing laundry, and my clothes did not dry properly, so she put me in my sister’s dress. For a while, I was wearing my sister’s clothes because I was so fascinated. And I felt so much happier just wearing something a little more feminine than masculine. For a while, [when] my dad said that I could not wear them anymore because it goes against the society, I stopped wearing her clothes.
It wasn’t until I turned 15 that I started experimenting with drag. That’s when I found that fine point in gender identity.
TM: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT IDENTIFYING AS GENDER-FLUID, AND WHY IT WAS IMPORTANT TO MAKE THAT DISTINCTION AS A DRAG QUEEN?
Yuhua: When people associate with drag, they associate [it] with someone who is cisgender male and dressing up as a drag queen who wears female clothing—hyper feminizing the makeup, the hair, the wardrobe, the behavior. But it is not talked about with gender-fluid [identifying] people who do drag too. They’ve been around for a long time…Same thing with transgender women that do drag and also bio females that do drag. Also, trans men that do drag.
I think it is important to talk about it. I need to let people know that drag is for everyone. It is not just for cisgender men.
TM: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT IT WAS LIKE SHOOTING RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE, AND WHAT IT MEANT TO BE GIVEN A PLATFORM AS AN ASIAN AMERICAN CONTESTANT?
Yuhua: RuPaul’s Drag Race was a lot of hard work. I mean, it looks all fun on television, but it is a lot of hard work. A lot of sweat, tears, love, arguments. But at the end of the day, it is very, very rewarding. It has opened so many doors and opportunities to a lot of things that I’ve never thought I would do.
I auditioned for drag race because I felt like I’ve reached a glass ceiling in New York City. RuPaul’s Drag Race was the route to push through that glass ceiling and to show the world what I can do as an Asian American on national television. And, since Asians are still underrepresented in the entertainment industry, I feel like I have to work harder to prove to people that I am also entertaining, I am funny, I can also do what other people can do as well as a drag queen, and also as an entertainer.
TM: WITH THE RELEASE OF “THE ANKH SONG” AND YOUR PERFORMANCE ON MAY 4, IS THIS A FULL LAUNCH INTO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
Yuhua: I feel like I’m just an entertainer, so I’m just there to entertain people regardless of if it is music, comedy, dancing, performing, hosting, anything. So I don’t consider myself just a musician, I consider myself first and foremost an entertainer. If I’m entertaining people, I’ve done my job.
TM: AND WHAT CAN AUDIENCES EXPECT FROM YOUR LIVE SHOW?
Yuhua: They can expect me to be funny, they can expect me to be sassy, they can expect me to be entertaining, they can expect themselves to be clapping, cheering, on their feet, dancing, screaming, yelling, having a great time.
Yuhua will perform alongside Kalorie and Dusty from season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race at Axis, 775 N. High St., on May 4 at 10 p.m. Find tickets to the show on Eventbrite. For more information visit Yuhua’s website.