Identity Interview

Latrice Royale: People Are Capable of Changing

You can only imagine how excited we were about interviewing one of the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 4 – Latrice ‘mother f*cking’ Royale!

We spoke to Latrice about Ditch the Label, her childhood, RuPaul’s Drag Race and ways in which she has been discriminated against for in the past. Along with how she has grown and developed enough self-confidence and self-acceptance to make the haters ‘eat it’.

Ditch the Label: Hey Latrice, great to finally chat with you! So you have already been on our new website… what do you think of it?
Latrice Royale:  Kudos! I think the site is fantastic. What you are doing is amazing. I wish I had something like Ditch the Label when I was growing up. I just love what you are doing and I’m definitely going to spread the word.

Ditch the Label: Thank you, it really means a lot! So we all know you as being one of the biggest and most fabulous drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race and wondered how you first became interested in drag?
Latrice Royale: Interested is an interesting word as I never had an interest until my friends dared me to do it for Halloween – I did it, it was horrible, flunked the first contest, did it again and won! So I thought, you know what, I think I can get used to this – so that’s how it all started.

Ditch the Label: Did you ever receive any negativity when you first started out though?
Latrice Royale: Of course. I got a lot of negativity from people who are small minded and don’t understand the artistic side of it. There’s so much discrimination in the gay culture and it’s unfortunate. There was always something to be said and comments were always made about my size… they’d say “Oh, a big old man in a dress” and were very derogatory. When I was on stage they had to eat it because I’m a pretty good entertainer. It’s unfortunate but it happens.

Ditch the Label: That must have been discouraging… how did you deal with the negativity?
Latrice Royale: I’m not one to wear my heart on my sleeve, I have always been confident in who I am as a person. Growing up I had to be strong because I grew up in Compton and you have to develop a thick skin. I never let people really get to me that way because I was always confident as a person. We don’t always have a lot of people who are that strong and that’s where Ditch the Label comes in – it’s that support system that they need.

Ditch the Label: Got to agree. But have you always been so confident? Were you ever bullied as a child?
Latrice Royale: Well you know, when you think about it – I can say yes but to me I didn’t feel like I was. I was always a big guy and I was teased and made fun of and I know that’s part of bullying so yes I was. I would get comments quite often and it happened daily. My childhood was very traumatic growing up. I had things happening that should never happen to a child. When I write a book I’ll tell it all.

Ditch the Label: That must have been difficult. How did you deal with that? What kind of support network did you have access to?
Latrice Royale: It’s interesting because my mother was my biggest support – she always just knew what to say and knew how to make me feel better. She had a way of making me feel comforted and loved and she always called me her special child. I mean mums know, I always think they know. I was not the average boy kid growing up and she was always there for me.

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Ditch the Label: When you were on RuPaul’s Drag Race you were often taunted for your weight. Most of us will probably remember the argument that you had with Willam. Have you always been so confident about it or has it taken time to build it up?
Latrice Royale: Well you know, I have been thin but it was miserable during that point of my life because I was trying to fit a mould that was deemed more socially accepted. I was in a dance organisation, when I stopped dancing I was still doing drag – I just grew into this entertainer that was high energy. I still have the same moves that I had when I was small and people are impressed by that. I will never let my weight ever, ever stop me – it’s never an excuse. You have to love yourself completely and love everything that’s good and not so good about you. Once you accept that and are in charge of it and know it and own it no-one can come for you. There’s nothing they can’t say that you don’t already know. What you’re going to call me fat? And what?

Ditch the Label: That’s a truly inspirational way of looking at things. How was your experience of RuPaul’s Drag Race? Since you became part of the public domain, have you received any more negativity?
Latrice Royale: *Laughs* The whole experience was absolutely amazing. The most outrageous and best thing I’ve ever done. In the beginning when they released the castings and ‘Meet the Queens’ – the blogs blew up with negativity. They talked about my teeth, my size, my makeup… everything that they all love about me now. I read it only once, it was enough for me in the beginning. Even though I have thick skin it hurts your feelings. I thought, bitch no please – let them eat it. Sure enough the response I’ve gotten from even the haters has been like ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t believe in you and I thought you were this and that and you’re not – you’re everything, an inspiration.” They changed their tune. They judged me before they knew who I was and what I was about.

Ditch the Label: You also mentioned on the show that you have previously been in prison. Do you find that people often change their perception of you when you disclose that information? Is it fair to judge somebody for something that has happened in the past?
Latrice Royale: People respect the fact that I’m forthcoming with my prison background and the fact that I’ve overcome it and changed my life – now i’m a positive role model for people. A lot of people identify with it. Everyone has a past and everyone makes mistakes; It’s about how you deal with it and overcome it is all that matters. Even though here in the USA we are meant to repay our debt to society but that debt never gets paid off. You can’t get a job, you can’t vote.. you can’t do a lot of things because of your past and it’s unfortunate. It’s completely unfair, people are capable of changing – I’m living proof of that. It happens. If we’re punished for something we’ve done in our past then the rest of our lives never get a fair shake. So me, I’m so thankful for Logo for allowing me to come and share my story and to let people know that it’s okay – you can get past it and become a good person.

Ditch the Label: We are sure that everybody will agree with us when we say this, but wow – you’ve been through a lot. We’re in total awe! Do you have any advice for anybody reading this that may be going through something similar to yourself or are feeling unhappy?
Latrice Royale: The best advice I can give is to really, really love yourself. Understand your self worth and value and don’t ever stop dreaming. Go for your dreams, find your passion and go for it. Nothing is impossible – you just got to work a little harder to go where you wanna go.

We would like to applaud Latrice for her immense level of positivity and great attitude towards negativity and would like to thank her for taking the time to speak with us and for her continued support and advocacy of the Ditch the Label campaign.