rupaul's drag race

I’m Sorry, Jeff Goldblum Said What About Islam on Drag Race?

Photo: Bravo

Friday’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race — a.k.a. the first 90 minutes of VH1’s 3.5-hour marathon of Drag Race content — featured one perfect guest judge and one not so perfect guest judge. While Rachel Bloom gave constructive comments and made great reaction faces, Jeff Goldblum caught heat online for his pointed comments about Islam. For the episode’s “Stars and Stripes” runway, after a main challenge centered on a political debate, contestant Jackie Cox wore a blue starry hijab and a red-and-white striped caftan. During his comments, Goldblum wondered about the implications of wearing an Islam-related look on Drag Race. “Isn’t this an interesting wrinkle, though,” he said. “Is there something in this religion that is anti-homosexuality and anti-woman? Does that complicate the issue? I’m just raising it and thinking out loud and maybe being stupid.”

Jackie, who ended up in the bottom two for her performance in the main challenge, explained that she wore the outfit as a commentary on Trump’s Muslim ban, as a drag queen of Iranian heritage. “You can be Middle Eastern, you can be Muslim, and you can still be American,” she says in her voice-over. Later, she defended her choice after Goldblum’s comments. “When the Muslim ban happened, it really destroyed a lot of my faith in this country. It really hurt my family. And that’s so wrong to me,” Jackie said, tearing up. “And I had to show America that you can be LGBT and from the Middle East, and there’s gonna be complicated shit around that, and that’s okay. But I’m here, and I deserve to be in America just as much as anyone else.”

Fans of the show, along with other Middle Eastern LGBTQ people, defended Jackie on Twitter and criticized Goldblum’s views. “I don’t watch this show but I keep seeing this clip, and it’s Islamophobic and dangerous. Period,” the writer Khalid El Khatib tweeted. “Islam, like ALL religions, has significant progress to do in embracing intersectionality. But at its core, it’s a religion of tolerance.” The designer and artist @dirtbagboyfren added, “I really don’t need to see the islamophobic Jeff Goldblum clip on the second day of Ramadan so please stop sharing it and remember: if you bring up homophobia and sexism every time someone mentions Islam but not Christianity you’re racist. That’s it. You are.” And poet Omar Sakr wrote, “Jeff Goldblum felt the need to say ‘but isn’t Islam anti-gay and anti-woman’ to Jackie because she was wearing a stars-and-stripes hijab, as if America hasn’t been anti-gay and anti-woman from the outset, or killed and displaced millions of Muslims, including women and queers …”

Jackie survived the episode, winning a Lip Sync for Your Life to “Firework” that made Goldblum tear up. As others used Goldblum’s comments as a shield to further criticize Islam, El Khatib clarified his position in a reply. “I’m not saying it isn’t difficult to be a LGTBQ people in a predominantly Muslim country or household. It almost universally is,” he wrote. “But the way we make it better for them is not some B-list celebrity espousing hate on a problematic fracker’s show that tons of gay people watch.”

I’m Sorry, Jeff Goldblum Said What About Islam on Drag Race?