Who Is RuPaul's Drag Race's Symone?

Symone (born Reggie Gavin) told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that watching season 1 of RuPaul's Drag Race when she was 15 or 16 was her first taste of drag. "I was like, wait, there is something going on here. You can put on makeup and do whatever you want to do? Let me do it!" Back then, she was attending Conway High School in small-town Arkansas. Now, the 25-year-old, who has been performing and doing drag since she was 18 years old, lives in Los Angeles, at House of Avalon with other Arkansas queens and creatives.

In her introduction video, Symone unabashedly describes herself as "the Black goddess who's come to earth to save all of you." It's easy to believe her. Inspired by "strong, powerful, Black women" like Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, and Rihanna, the drag queen is the living embodiment of glamorous hairdos, outrageous outfits, spectacular makeup, and magnetism.

While admitting to the Democrat-Gazette that participating in RuPaul's Drag Race meant living "my childhood dream," Symone's got much bigger plans for the future. "I want to take over the world! I want to see Symone everywhere. I want to see my name in lights and in magazines and on billboards and TV screens and Instagram feeds and Twitter," she told the newspaper.

Why Symone does drag

Growing up, Symone watched the reality show she's now starring in because it gave her a mirror to look into: proof that other worlds existed. For similar reasons, she chose to join the show in its 13th season. "To the young queer babies trapped in those rural parts of the country, thinking you can't do anything or your dreams are too big, look at this and know that they are not," she wrote on Instagram, of her participation on RuPaul's Drag Race. 

That's because Symone is not just a celebration of vivid, flamboyant femininity. She's not just fabulous at shopping, or blowing Instagram up with unbearably sexy nearly-nudes. She is also the answer to the struggles that Reggie Gavin survived, growing up as a Black gay man. "I felt like my Blackness, my queerness made people uncomfortable. I couldn't be too loud, too expressive, too feminine, too aggressive, or too smart," she reflected on The Gram. Doing drag became her way to shine, unapologetically. To British Vogue, Symone described Gavin as a mask. On the other hand, she described Symone as her true self, "the child underneath, the woman that society tears down."