Bridging cultures, whether that’s bringing “big city drag queens” to small towns in rural Tennessee or the LGBT community to the Asian American experience, is what world-famous drag superstar Manila Luzon does by being her campy, glamorous self.
A fan-favorite and notable contestant of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” Luzon joins fellow “Drag Race” alums Bebe Zahara Benet and Trinity The Tuck at the historic Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee to celebrate Pride month with the new “Drag Queen Summer Glamp” mini-series presented by Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire. “We are going to a small town but they have big hearts,” she said of the show’s concept. “We are very excited to get to know each other and to share our experiences together and to celebrate being proud of who we are and where we come from.”
Named after the capital city and the largest island of the Philippines, Luzon is not afraid of telling audiences point blank where she comes from. That, coupled with her illustrious career as a drag queen and an icon of the LGBT community, makes her a role model for young, queer Asians. “I get to be myself and I get to show off who I am as a person, and I’m honored that me being myself is inspiring a lot of other Asian Americans—gay Asian Americans also—to stand up and be proud of who they are,” she remarked.
Luzon brought up an interview where social media personality Bretman Rock cited the drag queen as a major influence on his life. “Seeing me when he was still young and in high school was a big deal for him because he finally saw someone that kind of looked like him,” she recalled. “Growing up, I didn’t have that many Asian American role models in media that I could look up to … so I’m extremely honored that I get to represent my side of the story.”
The drag queen also touched briefly on the difficulties at home that some queer AAPIs may face. “I know that a lot of LGBT Asian Americans do struggle because we grow up and we’ve been raised by our Asian parents and sometimes they can be very strict, sometimes they can be very religious, sometimes they can have ideas of what they want us to be … so sometimes it takes a little bit of time to get your parents on board, but they will eventually,” she reassures, “because what they really want is the best for us and that’s what I want for the next generation.”
Watch the full interview above to hear more of what Luzon has to say and check out “Drag Queen Summer Glamp” on the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire website.