Makeovers, Miss Universe, and the Golden Gays—it doesn’t get queerer (and more meaningful) than this!
WARNING: spoilers ahead.
Let me say this out loud: I’m so GLAD that we had a non-elimination challenge! When Episode 6 teased that the Golden Gays were coming over to the show for a makeover, I immediately thought that sending someone home would ruin what could possibly be a meaningful episode not just for Drag Race Philippines, but for our queer elders who have paved the way for the young ones to be their fabulous and unapologetic selves.
Here’s a quick brief on the Golden Gays. Known in full as the “Home for the Golden Gays,” the facility takes care of the elderly and homeless gays, or “lolas,” (grandmothers) as they like to call themselves. The non-profit organization was established in the 1970s by the late Justo Justo, a columnist, Pasay City councilor, and LGBTQIA+ activist.
The Golden Gays still currently live together in Pasay, supporting each other and making a living through menial jobs and drag shows on weekends. They also perform community outreach and awareness programs to raise funds and shed light on LGBTQIA+ issues, especially those affecting the elderly. Their stories have been chronicled in several publications, including the New York Times.
It is only appropriate for us to recognize each Golden Gay that graced Drag Race Philippines, alongside their drag name and the queen that got assigned to do their transformation: Carmen Dela Rue as, well, Carmen Dela Rue, (ØV Cünt); Divine Amparo as Amparing (Bernie); Evangeline Pascual as Captivating Meowmeow (Captivating Katkat); Tricia Javier as Chloe Larosu So (M1ss Jade So); Madonna as Tequila Sunrise (Arizona Brandy), and Cherry Pie Picache as Mitsu Beshie (Hana Beshie). On the main stage, the Golden Gays transformed into fabulous drag queens, walking and performing alongside their newfound sisters.
More than just beautiful gowns, glittering makeup, and queer theatrics, the Golden Gays’ display of elegance, strength, and grace on the runway was a golden moment that every young queer should witness. Not only is it inspiring to see our lolaslive out their truth and work it out despite their age, but it is also important to listen to their stories and understand how we can help them as a community.
I can empathize with how this episode meant for our queens, with some getting more emotional than others. Sharing that she’s used to taking care of the elderly, ØV revealed that her grandfather recently passed away, and her interactions with Carmen Dela Rue recalled memories of her bonding moments with him. Taking care of Tricia meant a lot to Jade as well, reminding the queen of how she could have taken care of her grandmother (who had a leg operation) and her mother (who recently underwent chemotherapy).
The episode wasn’t without its cheeky and mischevious moments, though! Madonna—who, by the way, is chipper for a 93-year old—is a self-confessed alcohol lover who had several boyfriends back in the day. She and Arizona took a tequila shot on the main stage, which ran in line with the queen’s branding. Evangeline marched to the beat of her own drum, wandering inside the Werk Room while Katkat tried to get her attention. Cherry Pie Picache as Mitsu Beshie matched Hana Beshie’s ‘60s hairspray energy on the main stage, and Amparing threw playful shade at her fellow lolas during Untucked. Even Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz, this week’s guest judge, felt like the Golden Gays had more fire and flirtatiousness in them than her!
The lip sync for the win was also by far the best of the season, with Bernie and ØV performing Vernie Varga’s “A Little Kiss, A Little Hug.” Both queens served energetic choreography, with Bernie getting a little bit of the upper hand with her facial expressions and graceful movements. As such, she won her second maxi-challenge, sharing half of her earnings to the Golden Gays.
Overall, this episode was a golden moment, not just for queens or the Golden Gays, but also for the queer community. It was a welcome change from last episode’s energy, a memorable and meaningful experience for the queens and lolas, and a poignant reminder for the young gays of the brave souls who have fought (and still fight) for the right to be unapologetically ourselves.