Welcome to the 10th article in our 2019 Pride Month Series! Each day in the month of June, we will be highlighting a different member of the LGBTQ+ community who we think is a great example of representation and dynamic characterization. We will focus on fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike — the positive voices within the LGBTQ+ community and in mainstream media.
I already had the thrill of covering a contestant from season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race for this series. And today I want to introduce you to another contestant and former winner of the show, Jinkx Monsoon!
Jinkx was crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar in 2013 during season 5 of the highly successful and Emmy-winning reality show.
In an interview with the Huffington Post in 2017, Jinkx opened up about her gender identity, saying “My gender does not fit into the box assigned to my genitalia. I lie somewhere between the lines.” Jinkx uses she/her pronouns when in drag and they/them out of drag — which is what I’ll be doing throughout this article.
Because this apparently needs to be repeated… I am male bodied, I prefer to identify as non-gendered/non-binary. I prefer They/Them.
— Jinkx Monsoon (@JinkxMonsoon) July 24, 2017
Out of drag, Jinkx goes by the name Jerrick Hoffer and was born in Portland. They first started performing in drag at the age of 16. Their character Jinkx was inspired by their Jewish heritage and is also a nod to a nickname given to them at an LGBT youth center; the character Edina Monsoon from Absolutely Fabulous inspired the last name of the drag character. Jinks describes her drag persona as “influenced by a grandmother with charm school polish,” combining “the sophistication of a southern belle with the crass behavior of a working girl.”
Jerrick graduated from university in Seattle, Washington with a theater degree and has lived there since. They work as a performer and an advocate in the community, and they also participate in various acting roles, both in and out of drag. Jerrick is a trained singer and has performed in the well-known role of “Angel” in the musical RENT, as well as taking a role in Spring Awakening.
In drag, Jinkx is inspired by vintage fashion and old-time Hollywood fashion, often showing fashion elements from the ’20s and ’30s as well as typical make-up and hairdos from these time periods. During her season on Drag Race, Jinkx was especially known for her acting talent, winning “Snatch Game,” one of the biggest challenges in a season with a fairly unknown character. Her competitors and the judges themselves often criticized her for her unpolished looks as compared to her peers. But she still managed to not only make it to the finale, but also win against two extremely strong contestants — Alaska and Detox.
Although I wasn’t watching Drag Race when Jinkx’s season aired, I have since watchher season, and Jinkx appeared to go under the radar for most of her season, but showed up in the important bits. Her cheerful and engaging way make her a delightful performer to watch, not only because of her aura and acting, but also because of her immense talent for performing.
Her musical talent has helped her release several albums, sell out tours, and perform in a one-act 1920s-inspired cabaret titled The Vaudevillians. She also took to voicing the character Emerald on the animated show Steven’s Universe.
Among fans, Jinkx is known for her openness and kindness and also her advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community in general. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a fan event in London last year, where she worked long hours making sure all fans got to meet her, even without having purchased a Meet & Greet ticket. She was genuine, friendly, and made everyone feel welcome, which is so important at events where people who don’t have that freedom usually come to feel safe and accepted as their true selves.
Jinkx is an encouraging character for LGBTQ+ people who feel a bit “different,” not only because she won a competition being different than her peers, but also because her quirky persona is inspiring and encouraging to not take yourself too seriously and to be brave enough to step outside your comfort zone. In addition to that, having a non-binary identifying person in the spotlight as a role model and as a beacon is vitally important, both for struggling individuals in the community and for the sake of representation as a whole.
Stay tuned for the next issue of our 2019 Pride Month Series, out tomorrow. And catch up on the rest of the articles in the series here.