Earlier this month, Sasha Colby made history as the first Hawaiian queen to win RuPaul’s Drag Race. This week, the Season 15 champ received a powerful tribute on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
As many of us were reminded in early March when out congressman Robert Garcia (D-CA) delivered an impassioned tribute to Beyoncé, marking both the end of Black History Month and the beginning of Women’s History Month, members of Congress occasionally deliver one-minute tributes to public figures, constituents, or policy issues on the House floor.
On Wednesday, Rep. Jill Tokuda (D-HI) delivered an even more timely tribute to Colby.
“I rise today to congratulate Hawai’i-born Sasha Kekauoha, more famously known as Sasha Colby, on being crowned the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15,” Tokuda said. “I am so proud that a fellow Windward girl, hailing from the homesteads of Waimānalo, has earned the title of America’s next drag star.”
“From the very beginning of the competition, Sasha, a seasoned drag legend, drew upon her ethnic heritage and childhood trauma as sources of inspiration for her performances,” she continued. “Throughout Drag Race, she authentically represented her Hawaiian culture, talking about the legacy she’s building for our home state and about being Māhū.”
“In ancient Hawaiian days, Māhū were considered extraordinary individuals of male and female spirit who brought their healing powers to Oahu from Tahiti,” Tokuda explained. “Today, trans people are among the most revered members in the Hawaiian community.”
The Hawaiian-born Japanese-American lawmaker’s tribute came not only as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is about to kick off in May, but also, as Tokuda noted, as Republican lawmakers across the country continue to attack trans people and drag performers with laws banning gender-affirming care and drag shows.
“Amidst ongoing attacks on our LGBTQ+ rights that particularly target trans people and drag queens, her win is not only well-deserved, it gives us all hope,” Tokuda said. “Congratulations to Sasha Colby. You are a leader. You are a proud Māhū, and every drag queen’s favorite drag queen.”
Since winning Season 15 of the hit reality competition show, Colby, who is trans, has framed her final lip-sync performance as a political act. As she explained to Entertainment Weekly recently, Colby specifically chose to wear an extremely revealing costume during the number because she wanted anti-trans legislators “to see what they’re trying to eradicate. Because they’re probably eradicating it because they’re attracted to it.”
“I understand the eyes on me, which is why I wanted to be naked,” she said. “I wanted to normalize this trans body!”
In her speech dedicating her victory to trans people of the past, present, and future, Colby explained that the political climate for trans people was very much on her mind going into the show’s finale. “I told myself, while doing the finale, that this wasn’t trying to win, this was me showing these people that want to silence us and put us down and — for lack of better words — say ‘f**k you’ to all of them.”