‘Dark and toxic’: Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman talks leaving Drag Race

jeffrey bowyer-chapman drag race canada judge racist abuse
Image: Crave

Former Canada’s Drag Race judge Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman has opened up about his negative experience on the show and the “shocking” racist abuse he received from fans.

The actor served as a judge in the first season of the Canadian spin-off. However he departed before season two amid a vicious backlash from fans after his comments as judge.

Now Bowyer-Chapman has told The Hollywood Reporter he took the job after positive experiences on RuPaul’s Drag Race US. He said he’s always felt “drag is magic”.

However he explained the online abuse he copped after joining the Canada’s Drag Race judging panel was unrivalled.

Bowyer-Chapman described as “shocking” the amount of abusive messages with racist slurs that he “received from white, gay men”.

At the time, he recalled, “we were in the midst of a racial justice awakening” after George Floyd’s murder and worldwide Black Lives Matter protests.

“All of the hate, and racism, and harassment, and death threats [has] shone a light on the insanity of it,” he said.

“It really did show a lot of people how dark and how toxic the Drag Race trolls have become over the past couple of years and how unacceptable it is.”

‘That was the most heartbreaking part’

After suffering racist abuse online, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman deleted his Twitter account before the inaugural season finished airing.

“As gay men, we unfortunately have grown accustomed to experiencing hate and vitriol and homophobia,” he explained.

“I guess I had just never experienced it from my own community. That was the part that was most heartbreaking.

“There was a lot that I experienced that Brooke Lynn just couldn’t have because Brooke Lynn is a white man.

“Myself, as a Black queer man, my inbox was flooded with people telling me I was too mean, I didn’t know what I was talking about. Just a lot of blatant racism.

“Their public profiles read ‘Black Lives Matter’, but their DMs were all about how my Black life didn’t matter.”

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman talks behind the scenes culture

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman sadly also reported a negative experience behind the scenes of the show.

“I came into Canada’s Drag Race with a false sense of security,” he said.

“I had built that trust with the producers of the American show… But this was a different set of producers.

“I think they were trying to create something impactful and prove themselves along the way.

“There are many instances where looking back, I should have paid attention to my intuition and spoken up. And I didn’t.”

‘You had to come up with something negative’

In one incident shortly before the cameras rolled, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman recalled a “white, gay, male showrunner” describing him as “man-candy that was there for the queens to drool over”.

He told him he needed to play the role of the “sassy” judge alongside judges Brooke Lynn Hytes and Stacey McKenzie.

“Being told that from a white person, ever, as a Black person, it’s like a dog whistle,” he said.

“It’s like what is said of Black women and of Black queer men.

“[It suggests] you’re the hot-headed, opinionated one who’s going to tell it like it is and not give a s__t about what anybody has to say.

“And that’s not who I am.”

The star also claimed Drag Race producers gave him pre-written negative critiques to deliver on the show.

“Even if we didn’t have anything negative to say, you had to come up with something negative,” he said.

Canada’s Drag Race producers respond

Canada’s Drag Race executive producer Laura Michalchyshyn told the publication, “We consider Jeffrey a part of our family.

“When he came under attack on social media, we were horrified at the hateful abuse he was forced to endure.

“In addition to clearly and publicly condemning that bullying, we sought to stand with him by blocking and deleting inappropriate and vile racist comments.”

A spokesperson for broadcaster Crave also told THR, “Jeffrey is a gifted talent whose energy, skills and passion unquestionably contributed to the success of the inaugural season.

“He will always be considered part of the Canada’s Drag Race family.”

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1 Comment

  1. Ming
    23 September 2021

    Every episode across every season and region is now artificially produced and managed. So the producers would deliberately cast him as the villain judge insisting he stick to scripts they give him. Shame on Ru Paul but hey, he long since lost control over strategic direction in xchange for $$$$$

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