Appearing on National Public Radio’s (NPR) Fresh Air with Terry Gross earlier this month, beloved American drag queen and star of RuPaul’s Drag Race RuPaul Charles let slip the unsavoury truth behind his grandiose Wyoming estate.
In what was billed as an hour-long conversation covering all aspects of the groundbreaking TV hit which last year reached its tenth anniversary of being on air, the eponymous host of RuPaul’s Drag Race began his chat with seasoned interviewer Terry Gross entirely within his comfort zone, speaking on subjects from the mantras his mother passed on to him to his favourite methods of self-promotion during the early days of his career.
But then Gross asked something the 59-year-old queen hadn’t expected: what does he do with the sixty-thousand acre estate which spans across Wyoming and South Dakota, owned by himself and his husband, Georges LeBar? Charles responded:
“Well, a modern ranch, 21st century ranch, is really land management. It is – you lease the mineral rights to oil companies. And you sell water to oil companies. And then you lease the grazing rights to different ranchers. So it’s land management.”
The disappointing revelation, which has gone largely unnoticed by mainstream media outlets who are currently consumed with the Coronavirus outbreak, was picked up by social media users who were shocked at the level of ease with which the TV host and drag icon revealed such a damaging claim.
According to a search on FracTracker, a website detailing maps of fracking sites across the United States, large swathes of the property are covered in oil and gas wells. The oil and gas development process causes tonnes of methane pollution each year, one of the greenhouse gases most contributing towards the climate crisis.
It has been estimated that there are over 35 active oil and gas wells on just 10,000 acres of the estate. Rory Solomon, the PhD researcher at New York University whose discovery on FracTracker went viral on Twitter, commented, ‘RuPaul has thrown a climate ball on his show, […] so it’s deeply hypocritical to participate in fracking’.