This interview also appears as the cover story of Issue 136 of Twin Cities Gay Scene magazine.
“Opalence, you earn everything!”
Mercedes Iman Diamond is the reigning meme queen from the current Season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She also is located right here in Minneapolis, hosting weekly Drag Race viewing parties at the Gay 90s. I caught up with our hometown hero to talk about how her expectations of the top reality TV competition have differed from her real life experience.
Derek: RuPaul’s Drag Race has a massive fandom. What were your social media notifications like the first 24 hours after you were announced?
Mercedes Iman Diamond: Everyone was filling my social media with the best love and support I could ever ask for! It took me a little bit to realize how this would change and affect my career and my everyday life.
D: How does it feel to represent Minneapolis on a national stage?
MID: I have always considered my home to be Minneapolis, this city has shown me so much loyalty and kindness — even at times I wasn’t the most deserving, they have stuck by my side! I’m forever grateful to represent Minnesota at the best of my ability.
D: Where are you most excited to tour?
MID: Entertaining is my first love, and my second love is pleasing the fans! I have been very fortunate to already live my dreams as a entertainer 5 nights a week. I am most excited to see the fans and meet new friends I make on the road. Seeing the world is a opportunity of a lifetime, and should not be taken lightly — and trust, I don’t take this for granted! I am soaking up every minute of this year!
D: Has the Drag Race experience been what you had expected?
MID: Yes and no; it’s not what you see on TV. It’s even harder taping the show. Being up for 18 hours a day without a break, tucked, loaded — and no pee breaks — yes, it’s a LONG DAY!
D: You are the first Muslim queen in RuPaul’s Drag Race herstory. You spoke about this in your Meet the Queens interview. Have you had a lot of LGBT Muslim individuals reach out to you since the cast reveal?
MID: I have had nothing but positive responses to my coming out as Muslim and being in the GLBTQA spectrum. [It has] been nothing short of a blessing. I am a human like everyone else. I want others to know that we’re all made to be a beacon of light in our own communities, and to show thy true self! I have had the fortunate opportunity to show the world that religion shouldn’t affect how you live your dreams, and being true to yourself only will help you love and live your life to its full potential.
D: Where are you now? I saw you just did the BUILD Series interview in New York.
MID: I currently am touring! Check out my social media for future dates.
D: Did fellow Minnesota queen and Season One winner Bebe Zahara Benet give you any advice, coming into the Drag Race family?
MID: I haven't had much time to speak to her, so unfortunately, no.
D: Are you musical? Can we expect an album or singles in the future?
MID: You might see a single from me in the future; you never know!
D: If you could achieve one big career goal within the next five years, what would it be?
MID: To aspire more Muslim queens to show their art and artistry. To inspire others to be true themselves, and never give up on what they believe is their destiny — and what they know to be true themself!
Who’s your favorite Season 11 queen? Tweet me! @DerekPlease