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The ever-blurring lines between politics and pop culture grow fuzzier — and more fabulous! — when Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi pays a surprise visit this week to RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. Pelosi represents California’s 12th district in Congress, which includes all of San Francisco — so it’s safe to say she’s found her way around a drag queen or two in her career. But the cameo isn’t just fun and games. Pelosi stopped by Drag Race as a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ community, as her political foes in the Republican party and Trump administration roll back a startling number of advances made by the Obama administration on LGBTQ rights. The Department of Education reversed 2016 guidance to schools prohibiting gender identity discrimination; the Department of Justice abandoned its lawsuit against North Carolina’s “bathroom bill”; the DoJ filed a brief supporting the Colorado baker who refused to serve gay customers — the list goes on and on.
Pelosi took a few minutes out of her hectic morning on Capitol to talk to The Hollywood Reporter about equality, lip syncing and the things she’d like to see sashay away from Washington.
The list of rollbacks on LGBTQ rights since Donald Trump has taken office is shockingly long. Who is the architect of this campaign?
Let me say this about the president: There’s nothing that the president has advocated for in any of this that the Republicans in Congress haven’t been there longer and worse. Their attitude on all of these things made them welcome President Trump because they knew he would implement their policy. Whether we’re talking about the Department of Education, the Department of Justice abandoning the lawsuit challenging the North Carolina bathroom bill, in terms of gender identity, discrimination and the rest — that was all part of the Obama administration that they were just waiting for the opportunity for the executive branch to roll back.
Understand this — all this executive action is very welcome by the Republicans in Congress. And people say to me, “When are the Republicans in Congress going to walk away from Trump?” I say, “Why would they walk away from him? Any issue you can name, they’ve been there longer and worse. Including LGBTQ issues.”
How imperiled, if at all, is the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling?
Well, we can’t have it be imperiled. Fortunately that was a matter of the courts. It wasn’t a matter of Congress or the executive branch. It was the judicial branch and the courts upheld that. Now that’s a long history: Republicans in Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, and on top of that President Bush, once in office, tried to eliminate the right of judicial review of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. They knew their bill was unconstitutional. Nonetheless, you saw what happened in the court, which was a great day. Not just for the LGBT community, but for America.
And there’s no way that ruling can be rolled back?
Well, you know, they will always try. Because there are many things that they try. “They’re going to roll back Roe v. Wade,” “they’re going to do this,” “they’re going to do that,” which is sort of their ATM machine for getting votes from certain people in their base. Could they get another judge there that could review it? I think that it has precedence now and the fact that the court has acted makes it pretty safe. But that doesn’t mean they won’t make it hard in other places where [Republicans] impact marriage equality, say in the military. Even the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell didn’t solve all our issues in terms of the culture of the military. The marriage equality decision in the court just moved to the front-burner some of our concerns about how families are treated in the military.
What could politicians learn from drag queens?
Authenticity. Taking pride in who you are. Knowing your power — that’s what I talk about on my brief segment on the show. This idea of people believing in themselves, being themselves, taking pride in themselves, is not just a lesson for politicians but for everyone in the country. And that’s why I was so excited and couldn’t resist being on the show.
Have you thought about what your drag name might be?
(Laughs.) No, I haven’t.
What about a song you’d like to challenge Donald Trump to in a “Lip Sync For Your Life?”
You know what? Donald Trump’s policies, the respect I think his administration should have for the LGBTQ community, that’s more important than the fun we might have about his hair or any song he might lip sync. Though I do think he’s lip syncing some of his policies, because when you talk to him, he says, “I really am with you on this.” And then his policy goes and does something else.
Finally, on a scale of 1-10, how badly do you want to say “sashay away” to Donald Trump?
(Laughs.) It goes well beyond 10.
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