Gia Gunn has been one of my favorite drag queens of all time since I first saw her on Season 6 of RuPaul's Drag Race. Maybe because we both share Japanese heritage, or because I loved her long hair, her total fish appearance, or her hilarious sayings. I was able to actually connect with Gia when I lived in LA, and we have stayed in touch since. I was sooooo excited to sit down with her (virtually) and ask her some questions. Just as RPDR is beginning its tenth season! Scroll to read more to get an update on her journey as a trans woman, hear how surprised she was to be selected for Season 6 of RPDR, and get some amazing new lingo, straight from the tilapia herself!
You're a Chi-town gal. What are you favorite things about your hometown?
Gia: My favorite things about Chicago would be the amount of diversity, great food & nightlife!
What were some of the important steps or people that led up to your big moment on RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6? What advice would you give to other performers who are looking for their big break?
Gia: Getting on drag race was actually quite unexpected and without my friend's support I don't think I would have made it on. My advice to anyone who is looking to make it to the next level would be to stay ambitious but not lose yourself. Sometimes we can become so hard on ourselves and it's not always the healthiest. Keep your eye on the prize but also be open to all opportunities and walks of life!
What are the three things you couldn't do without if you were stranded on a desert island?
Gia: If I were stranded on a desert I could definitely not do without a pair of sunglasses, water & gucci!
You shared your transgender identity & transition with the public starting with Instagram and then on your YouTube for Transgender Day of Visibility in 2017. How has your life changed since that moment that you shared with the world that you identify as transgender?
Gia: Since I came out as trans publicly a year ago, my life has been empowered. I am no longer living a life that people "think" they know I'm living or have suspicions of. There is a huge sense of liberty gained by being able to step into the world and have people breathe your true presence and be accepted for who you always saw yourself as.
You've become a transgender icon and an advocate for the movement. How do you hope to use your voice and platform?
Gia: As a public figure my goal is to advocate for my community and be as active as possible in spreading awareness. Whether that be through doing public speeches at your local college or creating content as outlets for people who want more insight on this lifestyle. Since I have grown into my own this has allowed me to create a voice, that has strong messages. I would like to share these messages with the world to break the boundaries of gender and educate people on what it means to embrace change in their life.
"Feeling my oats", "tilapia", and "absolutely" have become such iconic phrases in the LGBTQ community. Do you have any new phrases you're using? We want to know!
Gia: Feeling like pussy, feeling like STUN!
How has drag changed for you (or not) now that you identify as a trans woman? Are there ways you think the drag community should make an effort to be more inclusive of transgender individuals?
Gia: Since transitioning drag has played a big role in my life. From being a creative outlet, full time job and now the gateway that has lead to me discovering my true self. I find myself occasionally confused as my role as a woman in drag but at the end of the day I realize it's an art form and anyone can do it. Regardless of your gender, drag doesn't define your sexuality or who you are as an individual. However society does and so I find myself having to defend the difference between a "drag queen" and a "transgender woman."
As a multiracial person (like me!), how do you connect with your different cultural backgrounds? Do you feel they are a part of your performance art?
Gia: Growing up in the midwest and making friends from all different cultures and ethnicities has shaped me into the person today. Since traveling the world touring I have really learned to appreciate cultures for their differences instead of comparing the two. Culture I believe is what makes this world go around and for artists like myself, it keeps me inspired. I love to incorporate my Japanese Classical Dance background as much as possible in my drag, to show people how important it is to embrace our identities and not try to blend in with the rest. I spent many years of my drag trying to do the same things that others were around me, with the fear that if I did anything "different" or culturally suggestive people would think it was "weird." Until I decided to take a risk and everyone has embraced my new direction!
You had a powerful quote at the end of an OUT interview with you and Isis King in November of 2017: "Know what your everyday truth is. Life is a transition regardless [and] everyone’s journey is different." What does that phrase mean to you? And how should others (trans or not!) think about that in their own lives?
Gia: It means that regardless of what point you are at in your life, we are always changing and evolving. A transition is something that doesn't happen overnight. Girls don't become women overnight the same as business professionals not becoming CEO's overnight. With that being said, we need to take the time to slow down and feel things instead of rushing to be distracted by false senses of reality.
There have been a few new video projects you've been working on with World of Wonder, Laganja Estranja, and others. Do you have any more exciting video productions in the works?
Gia: I am currently working on building my own YouTube channel: GiaGunnEntertainment so go give me a follow! In celebration of International Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31st I will be releasing an open conversation through photos/videos and captions on my instagram called #30daysintransition. Which will entail 30 topics that revolve around my personal journey up until this point and give people an insight not only who I am but also what my community faces on an everyday basis just by being trans. I am putting so much work into this project and would love it for all of you to join me in this very open conversation! Instagram: @Gia_Gunn
What's the next big thing for Gia? Any new pivots like a music album, a fashion line, or a starring role? We're all ears!
Gia: I am a current cast member on The Switch 2 Drag Race, the Chilean version of RPDR that airs this Sunday March 25th in South America! I'm so excited to get involved with the latino community and spread my love as #LaChinaMasLatina The competition is looking for "El mejor transformista de Chile", the best queen of Chile, and entails live singing, dancing, acting, impersonations & more! Just think The Voice meets Drag Race, it's going to be GOOD! I'm also working on new music and looking to put that out very soon as well as continuing to collaborate with new artists and keep opening the doors for new opportunities.