Hot off his Emmy wins, reality TV and entertainment star RuPaul Charles went viral for his less than satisfactory answer to a question about diversity. Now, the journalist who asked the question is giving more details about the incident.
ESSENCE journalist Danielle Young first bought up the subject on Sunday after Charles’ show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” won an Emmy for Outstanding Competition Program. When Charles brought his team backstage for press, they seemed to be comprised of mostly White men.
“Hey Ru, so I have a question for you about the hot button term ‘diversity,’” Young began on Sunday night. “That always gets thrown around, and here looking at your team, I don’t see a lot of diversity. I’m curious about how you feel, especially someone who represents so strongly for the LGBT community.”
Charles was accused of skirting the question by first making a joke about the term “LGBT,” saying he also represents for the “BLT community.” Then, he continued, “First of all, the host of our show is Black, gay, and a drag queen. So check, check, and check. But no, we’re pretty diverse. Yes, there are lots of different types of people here. Is it important? Absolutely! You know, I grew up… I had to fight.”
Many people on social media felt Charles still didn’t directly address what seemed to be the mostly White men onstage with him. Even Young hopped on Twitter after her question, expressing how she was disappointed Charles took her observation as a joking matter. “He thinks bc he is Black, gay & a drag queen, that somehow [h]is diversity quota is met,” she wrote.
Now, Young has expressed her sentiments even more in a talk with the New York Daily News. She said that she was caught off-guard to see “so many White men behind Ru… his show centers on diversity & the staff seemingly doesn’t. As a journalist, I wanted to give him the space to address that.”
Young further stated that despite the viral attention, it wasn’t easy being the one to stand out in the room. “I definitely had some trepidation because I know how a black journalist asking the hard questions is perceived,” she said. “I knew there would likely be backlash and that people would think because I asked a question like this that I was somehow taking away from RuPaul’s win.”
She clarified: “I wasn’t coming for or calling out RuPaul. I simply made an observation and asked a question about it. I think it would be powerful to see the very community RuPaul’s show is about, represented behind the scenes of it. So I asked how he felt about it. I didn’t want to ruffle feathers, go viral or negate his win. I had the space, so I asked the question.”
Young went on to say her colleagues in the press room were “eerily silent” and “gasped” when the question was asked.
She continued: “Usually, in the press room, you hear, ‘How do you feel about winning?,’ ‘How is your character most like you?’ etc. When RuPaul won and I saw who was on stage with him, I was curious about the behind-the-scenes of such a culturally robust show. So, when they showed up in the press room, I was given a chance to address it and have RuPaul respond directly.”
Young explained that despite the risk she took, some people congratulated her on addressing the topic of diversity behind the scenes. When asked if she thinks there will be repercussions of any kind, she told the Daily News, “I sure do hope not.”