RuPaul: I used depression to justify bad behaviour

Drag queen RuPaul Charles has said he used to “justify bad behaviour” due to his depression and life story.

The host of reality TV competition RuPaul’s Drag Race was at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in London on Sunday to talk about his memoir, The House Of Hidden Meanings, which gives an insight into his life and relationships.

The 63-year-old singer, actor and TV personality’s friends, US supermodel Kristen McMenamy and British socialite and musician Daphne Guinness, were in the audience along with Drag Race judge Michelle Visage.

In his book, RuPaul talks about using drugs since he was 10, being sober for nearly 25 years, disassociating from his emotions due to his home life as a child, and almost getting arrested at various points in his career.

He told the crowd: “You can create joy, you can create the world you want to live in, it’s a choice… and letting go of that addiction to depression is also a hard thing.

“Because, and I know, I’ve done it myself, my darkness, my depression will justify my ability to get away with a lot of other bad behaviour… (and I think) ‘well, the world has done me bad’… ‘well, you know, eff you all, I’m (going to) do my own thing, whatever I wanted’… letting go of that depression, letting go of that sort of get out of jail free card is not so easy because it becomes a part of your justification system, right?”

RuPaul also said that since working through “dissociating from myself” he has learned to “see what is motivating” his behaviour.

One example he gave was that he was “addicted to rushing”, but now shows up 15 minutes early for appointments.

He added: “I learned that from (Vogue editor-in-chief) Anna Wintour – she will do a meeting and she’ll be sitting in there 15 minutes early so everyone is shaking in the dark.”

RuPaul urged the audience to “repair that relationship” with your inner child.

He added: “It takes work because we’re talking years and years and years of abusing this child, honey.”

RuPaul also said he used to “resent” his father, Irving Andrew Charles, for not showing up for parental visits and thought he was doing it “maliciously”.

“(I spent) years and years of trying to emulate or complete or sort the relationship with my father through other men in my life, with boyfriends, or trying to reconcile the relationship with my father, and it just never, ever worked,” he said.

RuPaul added that his husband Georges LeBar was affectionate and, unlike other relationships, he was the one being pursued.

“I never got that level of intimacy, I’ve always been chasing other people and that switch, it’s not the easiest switch to take on,” he said.

RuPaul also talked about continuing to work on his “emotional growth” but told the audience they need to not rely on others to help them.

Drag Race: UK Versus The World
Judge RuPaul. (Albert Sanchez/BBC)

“There are no safe spaces,” he added. “Why does somebody else have to look after you? You have to look after yourself, you have to take care of your own child.

“What do they say? You have to put the mask on your face before you put the mask on your child face. That is a philosophy that has somehow gotten lost, (people think) we need other people to look out for us.”

He added that he has never seen a time period that has been “so divisive, so crunchy” and “weird” as today’s society.

RuPaul also encouraged people to vote but ruled out ever getting involved in politics himself.

He was taking part in a series of events for the Southbank Centre’s Spring Literature And Spoken Word Season.

Also announced for the series is One Day writer David Nicholls and author Sir Salman Rushdie, who will be speaking virtually.