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Drag queen Nymphia Wind performs at Taiwan Presidential Office

Taipei, Taiwan

Taiwanese drag queen Nymphia Wind gave a wild performance at Taiwan’s presidential office on Wednesday, celebrating her victory on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” last month.

Dressed like a yellow water lily, she twirled, sashayed, and even did the splits in front of outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, while lip-syncing to Lady Gaga’s “Marry the Night” and China’s “Chase, Chase, Chase.” Taiwanese singer Huang Fei. »

“This is probably the first presidential office in the world to host a drag show,” Nymphia told Tsai after her performance and thanked Tsai for her service.

“Thank you for your contributions to this country, so that I can grow up to be like this today,” Nymphia added with tears in her eyes. “Thank you for your eight years of dedication, becoming our Taiwanese mother.”

Taiwan is a vibrant democracy of 24 million people that Beijing’s ruling Communist Party claims as its territory – although it has never controlled it. But it is not recognized as an independent country by most world governments and has lost a series of diplomatic allies to Beijing in recent years.

Wang Yu Ching/President’s Office

Taiwanese drag queen Nymphia Wind shakes hands with Taiwan’s outgoing leader Tsai Ing-wen.

Tsai and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have championed LGBTQ+ rights, making it a more liberal stronghold in conservative Asia. The self-governing island is one of the most progressive societies when it comes to sexual minorities. Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in 2019, a first in the region. Across the strait, China quickly moved in the opposite direction under Chinese leader Xi Jinping, cracking down on LGBTQ groups and content.

Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, hosts East Asia’s largest pride march every October. Last year, Vice President Lai Ching-te, who will take office as Taiwan’s next president on Monday, became the highest-ranking government official to ever attend the celebration.

Wang Yu Ching/President’s Office

Taiwanese drag queen Nymphia Wind performs on May 15, 2024.

Reactions to the show on social media have been largely positive. “Thank you for allowing us to be at the forefront so we can proudly show the world how free we are,” said one user commenting on Nymphia’s performance on Tsai’s official Facebook account, which posted: ended with her singing along to popstar Jolin Tsai’s hit for gender equality. “Womxnly” and joined by five of her fellow drag queens.

“I wanted to cry at the end; Taiwan has come a long way from the days when we were considered women, to the legalization of same-sex marriage and drag queens performing at the presidential palace today,” wrote another.

Not everyone was a fan. One user wrote: “I don’t know what drag queens are, but I don’t want my kids to be like that. » On the Chinese site Weibo, some criticized the spectacle which took place in front of the bust of Sun Yat Sen, often called the father of modern China and whose heritage is claimed by the Chinese and Taiwanese governments.

Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Nymphia Wind attends the ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 16 finale screening at The Edge at Hudson Yards.

Nymphia, the alter ego of Taiwanese-American fashion designer Leo Tsao, was the first East Asian to win “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and she made it a point during her time on the show to make one’s cultural origin known and appreciated.

During the show’s finale, she wore a dramatic outfit inspired by bubble tea, one of Taiwan’s biggest cultural exports, and many of her outfits referenced Asian heritage.

Nymphia is a well-established performer in Taiwan’s thriving drag scene, known for the extravagant outfits she creates herself. She has performed at Taiwanese temples and undertaken a photo shoot at wet markets, dressed as bananas in various stages of ripeness.

Tropical fruit is a common motif in Nymphia’s designs and has become something of a trademark. This is a cheeky reclamation of the sometimes derogatory term used to describe Asians raised in the West, being yellow on the outside but white on the inside.

Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Nymphia Wind and Jimbo on stage during the season 16 finale screening of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on April 19, 2024 in New York.

Accepting her crown and scepter on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” she said, “To those who feel like they don’t belong, remember to live without fear and have the courage to live your truth — and Taiwan is for you! »

Tsai told Nymphia after her performance, “I want to thank you for demonstrating your fearless beauty, for standing up and breaking down barriers,” adding that her story “will bring courage to many young people in Taiwan, so may they remain fearless and remain true to their hearts.

Additional reporting from Reuters.

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