Jeff Goldblum Faces Social Media Backlash Over Islam Comments on 'RuPaul's Drag Race'

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Jeff Goldblum

"Is there something in this religion that is anti-homosexuality? And anti-woman?” the actor and special guest asked during Friday night's episode.

Jeff Goldblum has come under fire on social media for asking if Islam was "anti-homosexuality" and "anti-woman" during Friday night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The comments came after the seven remaining queens on the show, now in its 12th season, walked a patriotic runway tailored to this week's "Stars & Stripes" theme. Those contestants included Jackie Cox (whose non-drag name is Darius Rose), who donned a red-striped caftan with a midnight blue hijab outlined with 50 silver stars.

"You can be Middle Eastern, you can be Muslim and you can still be American," Cox, who is Iranian Canadian, said in a voiceover.

Goldblum, who served as a guest judge on the show, asked Cox after she had walked the runway, "Are you religious, may I ask?"

'I'm not," Cox replied. "To be honest, this outfit really represents the importance that visibility for people of religious minorities need to have in this country."

The actor continued by asking Cox about Islam and how the faith treats LGBTQ people: "Is there something in this religion that is anti-homosexuality and anti-woman? Does that complicate the issue? I'm just raising it and thinking out loud and maybe being stupid."

Goldblum’s commentary was quickly criticized on social media, with users noting Islam is not alone in being a religion that that has historically discriminated against women and the LGBTQ community. Several users also noted that Thursday evening marked the start of Ramadan, a holy month of fasting for the religion.

The actor's questioning opened up a meaningful conversation on the show about Islam, its treatment towards the LGBTQ community specifically, and how those like Cox who are a part of the culture live through it. RuPaul, perhaps spotting the sensitivity of the conversation, noted that "drag has always shaken the tree, so to speak."

"There are so many different layers to this presentation. If it was ever going to be done, this is the stage to do it," the host added.

While tearful on the runway, Cox shared that "it’s a complex issue" and she has her "own misgivings about the way LGBT people are treated in the Middle East."

"At the same time, I am one," Cox continued. "What is so important to me is that if you just happen to be different, then live that truth."

While cultural norms and traditional readings of Islamic sacred text can promote a heteronormative binary of gender identification and sexual orientation, according to a recent survey by Public Religion Research Institute, more than half (52 percent) of American Muslims agreed that "society should approve of homosexuality." 

Cox continued to address how the U.S. travel ban that prohibits entry into the country from all Muslim-majority countries has impacted her personally. The ban has barred immigrants from Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, as well as Cox’s home country of Iran.

For Cox, she noted how the ban stopped her aunt from coming to the U.S. to help care for Cox’s mother. "When the Muslim ban happened, it really destroyed a lot of my faith in this country. And really hurt my family. And that's so wrong to me," Cox shared on the runway.

"I had to show America that you can be LGBT and from the Middle East and there's going to be complicated shit around that and that's okay. But I'm here and I deserve to be in America just as much as anyone else."