Amyl explains local history behind Drag Race Down Under frock

Sydney drag queen Amyl on RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under
Image: Stan

RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under star Amyl has shared the backstory behind her “deliberately garish” rainbow frock on the season three runway.

“This dress was such a special moment to bring to the main stage,” the Sydney queen wrote on a carousel of pics on her Instagram.

“It uses a work by an artist named David McDiarmid, who was active during the height of the AIDS crisis,” Amyl explained.

“The series this work is from — ‘rainbow aphorisms’ — revolved around AIDS and his experience of it.”

David McDiarmid’s first exhibition in 1976 celebrated gay male sexuality, years before decriminalisation. He died from an AIDS-related illness in 1995, at just 42 years of age.

The gay Australian artist’s work has been regularly exhibited in the years since, including in Sydney at WorldPride this year.

Amyl explained the later ‘Rainbow Aphorisms’ series her dress draws from was “created the year before McDiarmid died, so it’s safe to assume the idea that ‘lifetimes are not what they used to be’ would have felt palpable.”

“Not only because he and his community were coming face-to-face with their own mortality. But also because those who had passed away were so often remembered in a way that erased their queerness and disrespected the lifetimes they’d lived,” she wrote.

“One of the reasons I find McDiarmid’s work so striking is because it confronts heavy subject matter, but visually, approaches it with such a lightness. It feels like hope; like there’s space for a future that’s bright and colourful and cheeky.”


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‘The dress is garish, deliberately so’

Amyl went on, “During critiques, Ru asked me what the dress meant to me, so I reflected on that idea of hope.

“Nowadays, ‘lifetimes are not what they used to be’ is a lot less pessimistic. HIV isn’t a death sentence, and the sense that queerness and mortality are inextricably linked has receded into history.

“Now, lifetimes are frivolous and horny and complex and — maybe most importantly — long!

“I know a lot of people have derided the dress as plain or tacky or the worst look of the episode (lol) — and I get it! The dress is garish — deliberately so.

“McDiarmid himself said, ‘Good taste can be a prison’. The gaudiness and theatricality of it all remind us that despite the often unbearable weight of queerness, lifetimes aren’t what they used to be — and that’s cause for reverence, gratitude, celebration, and optimism.”

The Colombian-born and Sydney-raised performer was sadly the first queen eliminated from the season in episode one.

Amyl said her Drag Race journey was “a lot shorter than I had hoped”.

“But to be able to bring this message to the runway was pretty damn special. I’m so pleased I had the chance,” Amyl said.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under season three is streaming on Stan.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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