On Thursday night, a high-profile political guest made a brief appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3. None other than House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi showed up on RuPaul, and she stayed just long enough to deliver a message about the importance of voting and the lessons that we all, especially politicians, can take from drag queens.
RuPaul surprised the contestants near the beginning of the episode by popping into their workroom with Pelosi, who was grinning from ear to ear. The room erupted with gasps and cheers.
RuPaul welcomed the congresswoman and introduced her as "a strong woman who knows how to get things done" and a "champion of LGBT rights." Pelosi has served for over 30 years and currently represents much of San Francisco, a city that's long been known for inclusivity and spearheading gay rights. Pelosi helped lead the fight against the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
"When I got the invitation to visit the workroom, I couldn't resist," Pelosi said. "I'm honored to be here. You're an inspiration, I hope you know, because you really know your power. It's about taking pride, and that's what you do, take pride in yourselves, you know your power."
When asked what politicians could learn from drag queens in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about the experience, Pelosi pointed to that authenticity, though she clarified that it is "not just a lesson for politicians but for everyone in the country."
Authenticity can often be a make-or-break issue for politicians. During the 2016 presidential campaign, one of Hillary Clinton's weaknesses was often thought to be her perceived insincerity, while Donald Trump was often praised for his perceived candor. As the Democratic party looks for its next nominee, candidates' authenticity is a focus.
Pelosi said the same thing in January about the upcoming midterm elections. "We have to make sure that we have truth. This is about authenticity," she said in a Washington Post interview. Candidates are "presenting themselves, their hopes, dreams, what their purpose is for being a candidate, and why they would want to go to Congress, and what they know about the subject, and the judgment they have, and how they think strategically to get the job done, and how that attracts people to them. This is personal between the candidates and their districts."
On RuPaul, Pelosi made one more speech before ending her brief visit. As might be expected from a practiced politician, Pelosi took advantage of RuPaul's huge platform (All Stars has had nearly a million viewers at times during this season) to encourage people to vote.
"Voting is everything," she said. "I mean, people sacrificed so much in our country for people to have the right to vote. It's a blessing, but we have to use it. If you don't vote, you don't count. And you count."
RuPaul's shows regularly feature special guests. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars has been visited by, for example, musician Big Freedia, millionaire Marcus Lemonis, cosmetics entrepreneur Anastasia Soare, and fashion designer Marc Jacobs. RuPaul's Drag Race has had even more high-profile celebrity guests, including the likes of Kesha and Lady Gaga.
But Pelosi's appearance was still a bit of a departure from the norm because RuPaul doesn't often bring in lawmakers — his guests are more often artists, musicians, and actors. The significance of the moment wasn't lost on contestant Trixie Mattel.
"We live in a world where a high-power politician will walk into the workroom, and it makes me feel hopeful," she said later.
But, as Mattel also noted, political guests are a good fit for the show. "Every time you get in drag, you're making a political statement," she said. Maybe RuPaul should bring in lawmakers more often.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 is a spinoff of RuPaul's Drag Race, which has been on air since 2009. All Stars invites former contestants to compete against one another and nab a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame. The next episode will premiere on Thursday, Mar. 15.