Drag Race UK’s Alexis Saint-Pete wants to raise awareness of Poland’s anti-LGBTQ+ hostility

The Drag Race UK season 5 promotional photo for contestant Alexis Saint-Pete.

Drag Race UK season five star Alexis Saint-Pete, who is the first Polish queen to to appear on Drag Race, has revealed how she wants to use the show to highlight Poland’s anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.

Alexis Saint-Pete is one of ten fierce and fabulous queens putting their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent on display for RuPaul, Michelle Visage, and a host of celebrity guest judges in the new season of the BBC Three series.

Speaking to PinkNews and other media ahead of the season premiere on Thursday (28 September), the 28-year-old self-described “Polish Billy Elliot” said she wanted to raise awareness of the situation in her home country.

“When I got the call for the show, my reaction was ‘right, what more can I do than just show people my love to dance, my love [of] fashion’,” she explained.

Drag Race UK season 5 promo image.
Meet the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season five. (BBC)

“I needed to make sure that I represent my people the right way and tell the story because… people don’t really know what’s happening down there [in Poland]. Our rights are really being taken away from us.”

In May, ILGA-Europe’s annual Rainbow Map and Index named Poland as the worst country in the EU to be gay for the fourth year running.

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Since 2019, around 100 municipalities in the country have declared themselves as so-called ‘LGBT-free zones’ – areas which profess to be “free of LGBT ideology”. Such zones seek to ban the promotion of homosexuality and ban LGBTQ+ events and marches.

At one point, the ‘LGBT-free zones’ included more than a third of the local government areas of Poland.

Senior right-wing politicians and campaigners have upped the attack against Poland’s LGBTQ+ community in recent years, framing LGBTQ+ people as a threat to the county’s largely held, traditional Catholic Christian beliefs, and insinuating that queer people are a danger to children.

Women wear protective face masks with rainbow colour
For a time, nearly a third of Poland declared itself to be an ‘LGBT-free zone’ in a chilling display of united hate. (Omar Marques/Getty Images)

In July, a man was reportedly acquitted of driving a van which had slogans insinuating that “homosexuals molest children” on it during a Pride march in the city of Gorzów Wielkopolski. A judge reportedly ruled that the messages linking homosexuality to paedophilia were “true”.

Meanwhile, anti-LGBTQ+ violence is common in the country, while Poland remains one of few EU nations that does not allow same-sex marriage or same-sex couples to adopt children.

“How sick is that?,” Alexis said of Poland’s notorious ‘LGBT-free zones’. “We have buses driving around saying ‘no to LGBT teachers in school’, it’s crazy.”

While Alexis moved to the UK to attend dance school aged 12, she knows of queer people who still live in the country and continue to live in fear.

“When I visited Poland last time and got to meet the LGBT people in Poland, I got to hear some stories. So many people said to me [they] can be free in central Warswaw [but] if they travel a little bit outside, they would probably have to change their outfits, or they would feel fear,” she explained.

“So it is very important for me to make sure that I spread my awareness.”

As the first Polish queen on any Drag Race franchise, Alexis is also being seen as a beacon of hope and possibility for Poland’s queer community.

“The people, especially the LGBT people in Poland, are just going crazy about it,” she said of her casting on Drag Race UK. “Because we never had such a big opportunity for a Polish person to go outside Poland and do something successful.

“So for them to have representation and for the person to be gay and a drag queen? They [are] just going crazy. I’m having the best time, receiving the messages.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season five begins on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer on 28 September.