Written by Daniel Clayton
You’ve seen the memes and gifs.
You’ve seen her slay the runway as part of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
You’ve seen the YouTube videos.
And, of course, you’ve heard the iconic opening line of her YouTube videos: “I am Jasmine Masters and I have something to say.”
Now, as part of QBM’s Queer Black History Month Spotlight series, hear what Jasmine Masters has to say for yourself!
QBM: What are three things you can recall from your childhood that helped you to become who you are today?
My parents always let me know that who I am is who I am. People will like you or not like you, but that’s not your problem. [I was taught to] always have respect for yourself so you can have respect for others, [and that] if you work hard, you won’t have to ask nobody for SHIT.
Jasmine Masters. That’s become a household name on the Internet these days. What is the backstory behind your stage name?
The backstory is that the name Masters is from my drag mother, Destiny Masters. Before I did drag, I didn’t know what a house family or a drag family was. When I won my first competition, I didn’t have anything but my name Masters from her. I always admired Jasmine Guy as an actress and a singer, so I went by Jasmine Masters from that first competition and its been like that ever since.
What drew you to drag and, eventually, to competing in RuPaul’s Drag Race?
What drew me to drag was winning tickets to see Patti Labelle. When I won, people kept asking me to compete and come back. So when RuPaul’s Drag Race came around later on, it was a no-brainer to me to try out. I tried out a few times and finally got on. I had a ball on Drag Race! It felt like summer camp to me; meeting new people, doing challenges, and really just having fun!
Between the appearances and the online content you provide, it is sometimes hard to remember that you have a life out the media. What is your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?
Well I work on Sundays, but if I have a little bit of free time, I like to work on my costumes. On a relaxing day, I take a long drive on the highway to another city to do some shopping and sightseeing. I really don’t do much on my time off but I love to take mini-road trips.
How would you describe your journey to self-love?
I was taught self-love as a young child. I have a huge family, so when I see my family go through stuff, I always got the message of “love yourself; people will say stuff but at the end of the day you can’t do anything about it.” That was something that has always been in me.
Would you say that there is a support network between the Black participants in the drag scene?
There’s a connection between all drag queens in some sort of way, regardless. It can go either way sometimes, but as far as the girls coming in and what not, there can be a bit of a bond. It depends on the attitudes; whether they can deal with you and if you can deal with them is a bigger part of it.
Do you think that, one day, we will be able to bridge the gap between blackness and queerness?
No. Being Black and being queer is difficult. A lot of people do not accept themselves. Many Black men put on the super macho mask to hide the fact that they are gay because they aren’t comfortable with themselves. People even still misunderstand drag; drag is an occupation, not a way of life. People aren’t ready to accept themselves, so until we get that in order, we are going to be stuck. It has a lot to do with our upbringings. How many people can say that their people were open and welcoming about their coming out experiences?
When I was 16 and just started in the scene, a lot of the teens who were out were homeless and had to fend for themselves, all because they were gay. So when I meet parents who tell me their kids have come out to them, I tell them, “You are doing the best you can for your child right now” simply because they are taking time to learn about what “being queer” means.
What are your pronouns? Do you consider yourself strict when it comes to gender or is it more fluid?
Genderfluid. I go by any pronoun.
What advice do you give to young Black queer and trans folx about learning to love themselves in a society that tells them they don’t belong?
I think it’s very important for us, as even humans, that everyone is not perfect but everyone has their own life to live, to the best of their ability. At the end of the day, when your life is over, it’s over. No one can tell you who you are in the inside, you have to determine that. Once you accept yourself for who you are, what you are, and what you want to become, you’ll be unstoppable.
What’s the next big thing can the fans expect from you?
I do have a new webseries out called “Jasmine Master’s Class”. It’s on YouTube under WOW Presents Plus. Basically, I discuss everything from relationship advice to hygiene. It’s a spinoff of my regular videos where I do the whole “I am Jasmine Masters and I have something to say”.
Author’s Note: Jasmine Master’s impact on the Black LGBTQ+ community is, without question, an enduring legacy many of us share in. By being visible and by showing the world what it means to be a Black drag queen who owns their identity, Jasmine is creating a lane and a space for many young Black queer youth to find the courage to be themselves, whether that be through drag or through other mediums.