‘It’s about spreading hate’: RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Aura Mayari strikes back against the Tennessee drag ban

“Last week at Nashville’s Centennial Park, Aura Mayari paraded and posed around the famous Parthenon building with a face full of fabulous, gravity-defying makeup. A photographer’s flashes followed as she modeled a towering top hat with ostrich feathers, a bedazzled leotard, and a pair of thigh-high, crystal-encrusted boots. Mayari, who was born and raised in the Philippines before moving to the US in 2003, is named after the goddess of the moon and the ruler of the night in Kapampangan mythology. The long, flowing cape wrapped around her shoulders was customized with a sparkling silver crescent moon and the word aura.

Mayari was supposed to wear the look—a re-creation of one of Beyoncé’s Coachella ensembles in 2018—for “Night of a Thousand Beyoncés” on RuPaul’s Drag Race last week. Since her recent elimination from the show’s 15th season, however, she has continued to reveal online the outfits she brought for each episode’s themed catwalk.

The photos Mayari posted from the shoot are a testament to her skill as a performer. Fierce as she looks, she spent the duration of her time in the park wondering if she would be the target of a hate crime. “As much as I wanted to be brave and strong for myself, I felt very unsafe,” Mayari tells me over Zoom. Her fear is not unfounded. If she were to conduct the same shoot in Nashville after April 1, she would be committing a criminal offense.”

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