Drag Race’s Ginny Lemon ‘honoured’ to represent LGBTQ+ at Commonwealth

Ginny Lemon’s groundbreaking performance was beamed to countries where being LGBTQ+ is illegal (Picture: PA / BBC)

Ginny Lemon’s groundbreaking performance was beamed to countries where being LGBTQ+ is illegal (Picture: PA / BBC)

Drag Race legend Ginny Lemon has spoken out about the ‘honour’ of representing their community at this year’s Commonwealth Games.

The drag queen thrilled crowds at Birmingham as they opened the ceremony in a lemon-shaped hot air balloon, kicking off the global event in their unique, brilliant way.

It was an absolutely massive moment for Ginny’s career – but more than that, the star felt the ‘momentous’ honour of representing both their homeland of the West Midlands and the LGBTQ+ community.

The opening of the Games was broadcast to an audience of up to one billion people, across Commonwealth countries – the vast majority of which criminalises being gay.

Ginny, who is non-binary, spoke to Metro.co.uk about the importance of representation, describing it as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity for them.

‘I’m feeling on top of the world, I feel absolutely amazing,’ they said.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Roland Harrison/Action Plus/REX/Shutterstock (13054057n) Commonwealth Games 2022, Opening Ceremony: Ginny Lemon performing during the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2022; 28th July 2022: Alexander Stadium, Perry Barr, West Midlands, England. Commonwealth Games 2022, Day One, Birmingham, UK - 28 Jul 2022

The star says it is an ‘honour’ to have represented their community on a massive platform which was aired in many regions which have no LGBTQ+ rights (Picture: Action Plus/REX/Shutterstock)

‘I cannot believe how momentous it was… It was once-in-a-lifetime for me and to be part of that, to be representing the west Midlands, I feel so honoured.

They said it was ‘amazing to be watched by over 1 billion people, 30,000 people in the stadium, from all around the world.

‘For me, the most humbling experience is that in a lot of these countries it’s illegal to be part of the LGBTQ+ community. So to be broadcasting queer artists and representing queer artists and non-binary people, it’s an honour really.

‘On one front I feel very honoured and very glad that I’ve done a good job. And then on another I feel that this is just a big deal for queer people everywhere.’

Asked what their message is to the wider LGBTQ+ community, both in the UK, Commonwealth countries and across the world, Ginny urged everyone to ‘keep fighting.’

‘We have to keep fighting for everyone’s rights and fighting for equality throughout, the war is not over. We need to keep fighting because things are changing so rapidly in this country and us queers need to stand and fight for our LGBTQ+ siblings.’

UK Drag artist Ginny Lemon during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. Picture date: Thursday July 28, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

The Commonwealth Games – and Ginny’s entrance – generally has an audience of over 1 billion people worldwide (Picture: PA)

As for if there was anyone in particular Ginny hoped saw their spectacular entrance at the Commonwealth Games – perhaps someone who didn’t believe in them at the start of their career – they laughed heartily.

‘I do want to kind of answer that question, but mostly I’ve done myself proud,’ they said.

‘But yeah, of course, I want to say a big F U to some select people – but I’ll be professional and I won’t, because it’s more about what Birmingham has achieved. It goes beyond me.’

As well as their groundbreaking representation at the Commonwealth Games, Ginny has just had another major career moment: the release of their album, Tonic, on 5 August.

Ginny describes the record as ‘exactly what it says on the tin,’ and hopes it can be a ‘tonic’ for everyone who hears it, ‘an antidote to everything we’ve all been through recently.’

Ginny Lemon attending the National Cat Awards at the Savoy Hotel, London. Picture date: Thursday August 4, 2022. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire

Ginny wrote their new record all through lockdown and hopes it’s seen as a way to find the joy in the mundane parts of life (Picture: PA)

‘The second I stepped off the catwalk of Drag Race I immediately started writing this album and I wrote it all through lockdown, mundane things and things that were a bit more political,’ they said. ‘I really wanted it to be a tonic for myself and for other people. ‘

One song in particular, Ding Dong, is an ‘antidote’ to the sound of the alarm clock you hear every morning, when you’re going into a job or a situation you’re unhappy in.

‘You’re kind of triggered from the moment you hear that alarm every morning,’ they explained.

‘And if you’re in this situation you can go “You know what, f*** you, and I’m going to change my life.”‘

Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK. 26th May 2019. A variety of entertainment at Salisbury International Arts Festival to keep the crowds entertained. Fantabulosa! Boundaries are forgotten and anyone can be whoever they want to be, as some of the UKs leading drag a

Ginny is ‘very happy’ being a cult figure and hopes their album can be a ‘tonic’ for anyone who needs it (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

While Ginny is immensely proud of the record, they laugh at the idea of competing with Beyoncé in the charts, assuring Metro.co.uk they are ‘very happy being a cult figure.’

However, ‘the dream,’ they say, would be turning Tonic and their other collections of songs into a musical stage show (‘Fingers crossed and manifest!’).

The album as a whole, as well as track I Am Over My Overdraft, Ginny wrote for ‘all those kind of working class, broke-ass b****es, just like myself.’

‘During lockdown, work was non-existent for live performers like myself,’ they explained. ‘I ploughed every penny that I had, any savings that I had into bloody costumes for Drag Race. What a stupid move that was!’

The album is deeply personal, often political, and sometimes angry under the surface – but, as Ginny puts it, ‘then I also sing about eating as many biscuits as I can.’

RuPaul's Drag Race UK Series 2 Ginny Lemon, Worcestershire, 31 Hiya Babs! Fancy a slice?! Where is Ginny Lemon from? I live in Worcester, but as there?s no drag scene there, my main scene is Birmingham. It?s absolutely fabulous and so diverse. It?s the most loving and embracing scene I?ve ever been a part of. I think people need to wake up to how fabulous Birmingham is! Who is Ginny Lemon? I?m basically a drag troll. I?m the hairiest woman in show-business! I?m the only nonbinary drag queen in the UK?with a sense of humour! I don?t do traditional drag; I am a character. My look is a 90?s daytime TV presenter. I wear my face which suits me. For me, it?s not about makeup. It?s all about the performance. Why yellow? Someone once said I was too fat and ugly to wear yellow, so I thought well I?m going to make it my signature colour! For me it?s a spiritual sign of happiness. Plus, I like to look absolutely bat shit crazy. What can people expect to see at a Ginny Lemon Show? All I know I?m going to do is go on that stage and say, ?Hiya Babs I?m Ginny Lemon, Fancy a slice?? BOOM, anything can happen. I?m an improvisational comedienne so you?ll get high energy, you?ll get madness, you?ll get the unplanned. I never ever repeat a show. Why do you look familiar? I did X Factor in 2017, and I sang Liberty X?s Just A Little Bit. Really, I?m a singer songwriter, and drag is how I do that. I?ve been doing drag since 2016 so I was quite a new Drag Queen when I did X Factor. What are you drag inspirations? Music and madness! Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Bjork, Grace Jones but then also telly icons like the one and only Sue Pollard, Julie Walters, and obviously, Victoria Wood I love old school British comedy and alternative singersongwriters. What challenges are you going to slay? I?m a fabulous singer and I can do everything. And, an absolute bullshitter as well. I?m looking forward to any comedy challenge. I?m going to bring you a down to earth, working class, sense of humour. What are you most nervous about? I?m not nervous, I?m not scared. I love a challenge. This is fabulous. Bring it on. Fancy a slice! Actually, I don?t sew, no way. I tried to sew but I got too nervous, I was lethal with a needle! I also really hate choreography. My sewing skills are crap, but I can tape together baccy pouches to make a dress if I have to!

Ginny put ‘every penny’ they had into creating costumes for Drag Race, which they are now able to laugh was ‘a stupid move’ (Picture: Lizzi Morton)

Ginny has ‘absolutely’ put the frustrations of Drag Race behind them, now happily describing their time on the show as ‘a camp old time.’

‘For me, Ginny has always been bout healing,’ they said.

‘I was already messed up beforehand. Going back to Drag Race kind of propelled me into the world and I wasn’t quite prepared. But now it feels more comfortable.’

That said, they can’t picture themselves being invited back for Drag Race All-Stars: ‘They’d be too scared of what I’d do next!’

Tonic is out now.

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MORE : RuPaul’s Drag Race star Ginny Lemon bursts into Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in lemon-shaped hot air balloon


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