'Drag Race UK' stars reveal why they kept their sexuality a secret at school

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·4 min read

Watch: Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea and Vinegar Strokes talk about their experiences at school

As gorgeous drag queens, it’s hard to think of Baga Chipz, Vinegar Strokes and Blu Hydrangea having to hide their fabulousness, yet that’s exactly what the trio did while they were at school.

Speaking on the latest episode of Reality Check, the three agony queens were discussing their experiences of being gay at secondary school. Chipz said, for her, it was a matter of just surviving.

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“You just couldn't come out,” she stated. “You would get your head kicked in, literally, if you were different. When I was at school, it was about surviving.”

A recent poll showed that almost three quarters of teachers have witnessed homophobic bullying, while 13% of children have been bullied for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender – more than those being singled out for their race or religious beliefs.

Listen: The ‘Drag Race UK’ stars discuss the classes they wished they’d taken at school

Hydrangea was one of those such kids. She said: “I was chubby. I was nerdy. I was a feminist, so I might as well have had ‘bully me’ tattooed across my forehead.”

She continued: “My school was like uber conservative, like right in the middle of the country. It definitely did affect me. I also even noticed, looking back on it, that it wasn't just the kids, but the school as a community didn't cater for people like me.”

Read more: Survey reveals huge increase in the number of young people who identify as bisexual in the UK

While Strokes said she was lucky to go to school in North London where there were a lot of gay boys to hang out, things didn’t really start getting better for her until she started drama school.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 06: Vinegar Strokes of 'RuPaul's Drag Race UK' attends RuPaul's DragCon 2019 at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on September 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)
Vinegar Strokes said that school can be hard if you're gay but it does get better as you get older (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

“People would just come out - left, right and centre!” exclaimed the drag queen, who appeared in West End musical There’s Something About Jamie.

“You can kind of have a massive community there, so even though there wasn't a massive club, you all kind of knew who was gay. That was all good, that you felt very accepted.”

Read more: 11-year-old with dreadlocks goes viral for standing up to school bullies

Hydrangea agreed, saying once she left the school environment, she was able to find her true self.

“I had a hard time in school - I was very suppressed,” she revealed.

“I almost felt as soon as I was out of that atmosphere - where people felt like they could have this control over me - I started to spread my wings and just fly and be myself.”

The ‘drag-ony aunts’ all agreed that once you leave school and start finding people with the same interests as you, it gets easier to find your tribe.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Baga Chipz attends the Ru Paul's Drag Race UK Launch on September 17, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Baga Chipz urges anyone who is getting bullied at school to seek help (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

“It gets better as you’re finding the right people who have the same interests as you,” says Strokes.

“The people at school are not the people that you have things in common with. It's just you go to the same school, doing the same subjects and that's about it.”

While all three agreed that things got better, they urged anyone who was going through a horrible time at school to reach out now.

Read more: Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea and Vinegar Strokes on how RuPaul’s Drag Race UK boosted their confidence

“If you are getting bullied at school guys, really don't suffer in silence,” exclaimed Chipz.

“You don't have to put up with that rubbish. You're at school to learn. You're not at school to take abuse. It is illegal to abuse people, bully people, belittle people, just for kicks.”

If you, or someone you know, is being bullied at school, you can call the National Bullying Helpline for free on 0300 323 0169.

Watch: The girls talk about the support they did get when they came out