Queen of the Universe has crowned its first winner, and she’s using her platform to speak out against anti-LGBT+ violence in Brazil.
Brazilian performer Grag Queen was named the champion of the debut season of Queen of the Universe, the international drag queen singing competition from the creators of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
The audience named Grag the winner after hearing from Drag Race judge Michelle Visage, drag icon Trixie Mattel, Leona Lewis and Vanessa Williams.
Grag beat out Ada Vox and Aria B Cassadine, both from the US, in the final vote to take home the lush $250,000 prize and the coveted title of Queen of the Universe.
The Brazilian queen revealed to Variety that she already had plans for the prize money, and she planned to use her title to champion LGBT+ rights in her home country.
After being crowned, she said, her first thought was about the queer community because “we’ve been through a lot”. She hoped to “be like a door to bring some joy to my people” because she felt like “no one cares about us”.
She also noted violence against the LGBT+ is sadly all too common in Brazil.
“We live in a country that kills LGBTQ people more than any other, and our transgender people’s [life expectancy] is only 35 years old and it’s not fair,” Grag explained.
The Queen of the Universe winner continued: “We are still trying to find some place of peace.
“We see all the time on the internet people being dragged and being killed and punched every day, but we don’t see that on the news on TV.
“I really want to use this platform to make people know that this situation is crazy, and it’s real.”
Brazil is one of the deadliest countries in the world for the trans community.
Between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021, at least 375 trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people were murdered worldwide – seven per cent than the year before.
The most deaths in a single country occurred in Brazil, totalling 33 per cent (125) of global deaths. It was followed by Mexico with 65 and the United States with 53 registered deaths of trans folk.
Homophobic and other anti-LGBT+ violence is also common. In June, a young gay man was found gang-raped and tortured in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina. The victim said he was attacked by three armed men who forced him to carve homophobic slurs onto his legs.
Lirous Ávila, president of the Association in Defence of Human Rights, told the Guardian that such “frightening crime” is “very common in Brazil”. She explained that violence against LGBT+ people, women, Black people and immigrants is “worsening” in the country.
Margareth Hernandes, a lawyer and president of the gender law commission, agreed that anti-LGBT+ violence in Brazil “has grown a lot recently”.
“Brazil is the world champion of LGBT murders,” Hernandes said. “We are a very conservative country where there is still a lot of prejudice. Hate speech ends up propagating violence.”
Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, a self-described ‘proud homophobe’, has a long history of making anti-LGBT+ comments.
He told Playboy in 2011 that he would rather his son “die in an accident” than be gay, saying he is “incapable of loving a gay son”.
Bolsonaro also reportedly used homophobic language to mock the use of face masks amid the ongoing pandemic and refused to wear a face covering because he thought they were ‘too gay’. He later tested positive for COVID-19.
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Elsewhere in her Variety interview, Grag Queen said the first thing she is going to buy with her Queen of the Universe prize money is a “good wig”.
“Like a caramel wig that touches my a**. It has highlights. Very Brazilian,” she said.
Grag said she was excited to be able to “go to the medic” without working about prices as well as give her parents a “very good living”.
“I just want us to be protected and healthy,” Grag said. “I don’t really feel like a millionaire [in Brazilian currency] right now, but I get used to the good things very, very fast.”