When The Girlfriend Experience popped up on our screens for Season 4 of Canada's Drag Race, her star power was electric, but three episodes in and the charismatic queen from Vancouver was booted from the competition, lip syncing for her life against Kitten Kaboodle.
Reflecting on Thursday's episode, Girlfriend says she feels "so good" looking back at her time on Drag Race.
"When I was actually there on the show, I remember being in hysterics, crying in the waiting area by myself and then the producers came in and were just so sweet to me, and were just like, 'I know this sucks, but the pressure's off," Girlfriend told Yahoo Canada. "Leading up to yesterday, I was definitely worried and a little nervous to see what happens."
"From my point of view, where I was emotionally at that point, everything was chaotic. So seeing that on television and seeing it portrayed in such a beautiful and humbling light, I'm like, 'OK I'm happy.' The stress is off my shoulders now, and I can just go back to being me and having a good time."
But when Girlfriend left the show, she still made an impact by giving us a wicked one-liner on her way out: "I just want you guys all to remember, that I was the prettiest."
"I didn't think about my exit line," she said. "It just kind of came to me."
"It was actually a little bit longer. I was having like a little heart-to-heart with the girls right before and then it came with the, 'We're all together. This is our journey together. And always remember, that I'm the prettiest.'"
'Drag was my way of letting that girl out in me'
During her time on Drag Race, Girlfriend was particularly open and honest about how she took some of the criticism from the judges personally, which impacted her mindset on the show.
"In context, the pandemic happened, I transitioned, I had a whole bunch of surgeries," Girlfriend shared. "I'm acclimating to this new life, this new womanhood and being treated like a woman, which I'm realizing isn't always the nicest, and a terrible breakup right before."
"My drag has always been a personification of the woman that I am inside. ... I think that those critiques, I wasn't ready for, because it does hit personally, because drag was my way of letting the steam out of the pot. To experiment with gender and allow myself to come to terms with my trans-ness. I grew up super religious and it wasn't conducive with the life that I live now. So when those critiques happen it's like, drag was my way of letting that girl out in me. And now that that girl is out, those things hit differently."
While Girlfriend certainly made an impact on the show, the question still remains for her, was she really ready to be on Drag Race at that time in her life?
"I do believe everything happens for a reason," Girlfriend said. "Drag Race was something that I wanted to do and it just so happened that I got on right after all of that stuff that I had gone through."
"Emotionally prepared, I would say I wasn't there. But I kind of just went with it because at the end of the day, Drag Race is knocking. ... This is the biggest leg up in my career that I've had to date and I think it would be really silly of me to waste that opportunity, or to have waited. I believe that the way it all worked out happened for a reason. The only thing I would say is that I wish I had been a little bit more sound in myself, in my body, as I am now."
The frustration of shadowbanning on social media
While Drag Race, both in Canada and internationally, has historically provided a massive platform for the careers of participating queens, Girlfriend and other trans individuals on social media are facing shadowbanning from sites, particularly Instagram — something Meta has been accused of for years.
"It's definitely been tricky. It's been frustrating," Girlfriend said, adding that Drag Race, Crave and Bell have been helping her to communicate with Instagram and try to get some answers to the shadowbanning issue.
"It's been frustrating to have things that I do just be taken down, or say that it was for nudity and sexual content, when the only thing that is showing is my shoulders. I think how you navigate that is only going to be to ... my determination, because you can't just shut me up. If you tell me to stop, I'm going to go harder. There are other avenues and I've been pretty blessed that I was able to have some of my content stay on my feed during the duration of the show."
Giving just one example, Girlfriend highlighted that she wasn't even been able to post her promotional shot for Drag Race, but the show's account can.
"They posted it fine, but that's because they're a bigger content account," she said. "So there is a double standard, which I find a little bit unsettling, but it's the world we live in."
Looking forward in her career, Girlfriend wants to "travel the world" and just be "happy" in her life.
"I just want to be able to live my life the best way that I can," she said. "My goal in life is just to be happy."
"I always dream of being an old woman, on like my rocking chair with a wraparound porch and just cannot be bothered about anything. Just know that she lived her life to the fullest. Have grandchildren and just pull out the photo album and show them how, they could never."