“Absolute chaos with a dollop of empowerment and a sprinkle of hope,” is how Munroe Bergdorf describes Queerpiphany. The hilarious (and slightly unhinged) MTV series follows the activist slash model and Drag Race UK icon Tayce as they sit down with an array of stars from the LGBTQ+ community to discuss iconic moments in popular culture that helped them come to terms with their queerness.
“[Queerpiphany] is a bunch of camp twats talking about their livelihoods, the ups and the downs and it’s not like, ‘Oh woe is me!’ It’s a celebration of queerness in the best way,” says Tayce. Available every Thursday on MTV UK’s YouTube channel, the second season features Heartstopper’s breakout star Yasmin Finney, singer-songwriter MNEK, Drag Race UK season three alum Kitty Scott-Claus, West End’s Layton Williams and rapper Lava La Rue.
Read ahead for our full interview with Munroe and Tayce, where they discuss the second season of Queerpiphany, Yasmin’s impact on LGBTQ+ youth and why it’s crucial to showcase more queer joy in mainstream media.
Congratulations on a second season of Queerpiphany! C’mon MTV?!
I know, it’s so mad! When you really think about it, I was watching MTV when I was a kid. I was obsessed. When I should’ve been doing my homework, I was watching MTV, which is not something I advocate for, but that was the tea. To have a show on MTV, and have it be with Tayce as well… A Black trans woman and a Black drag queen have their own show on MTV, which is huge. You would have never thought that when I was growing up, so it’s amazing how time changes. I’m excited to be part of that change.
What I love about Queerpiphany is that it’s completely unhinged and so joyous. Was it important for you both, from the get-go, to have the show be as fun as possible?
I think so. I do a lot of serious stuff with my career, so it’s really nice to show that I have a fun side and silly sense-of-humour. That’s so integral to queer culture, as well. Me and Tayce come from the nightlife circuit and we’ve actually known each other for a really long time, so it’s really important to have queer humour come through and let loose. Talking about these important parts of our lives doesn’t always have to be so serious, that there is a dark sense-of-humour that runs throughout the queer experience. Looking back at harder times and moments that helped you feel more free in your queerness is extremely difficult, but also it comes with a big dollop of humour. It’s a positive take on coming out, which is difficult for everyone.
Although it’s still important to showcase LGBTQ+ strife, it does feel like representation of queer trauma still heavily outweighs the positive.
Joy is really important, especially in these times when it’s so easy to lapse into doom-scrolling and when there’s so much negativity being reported on, because there is so much negativity in the world right now. What we really do need is more stories of queer joy, more stories of people finding themselves and looking at the bright side rather than getting bogged down in the negativity that is around us.
How did you and Tayce find the reaction to season one?
So good! It was really nice to just see people get it. I’m such an obsessee of camp, from John Waters to early RuPaul; a real silly, over-the-top sense-of-humour. It really harks back to the 90s with shows like EuroTrash and The RuPaul Show, and I really liked all of that when I was a kid. Being camp was seen as such a negative thing when I was a kid, so being able to reclaim that and hopefully help younger queer people who are watching this not feel ashamed of being effeminate or camp and see it as something that is part of our community – not something they can shy away from.
The show is, to me, a combination of a Red Bull and a Pride flag. For those who haven’t come across Queerpiphany yet, how would you describe it in just a few words?
[Laughs] Absolute chaos with a dollop of empowerment and a sprinkle of hope.
You can’t forget the fashion!
Oh yeah, the fashion is fashion-ining babe. We actually worked with my stylist, Sachin Gogna, on this season and he’s got such an incredible eye. So many outfits, actually, me and Tayce didn’t even mean to have matching wigs! It’s so funny, we just kept coming out of the dressing room like, ‘We’ve done it again.’ Visually, it’s a feast. I haven’t seen this season, so I can only go on what we recorded, but I left every single conversation feeling lighter, much lighter, and proud of the fact that we’re in this time and space where queerness is being celebrated. It’s not all about the doom and gloom, and being queer is fucking fun. Do you know what I mean? We don’t hear enough about that. We hear about trauma and sob stories. That all has its place, and we all have our story that is extremely traumatic, but it’s important to plug into what has brought us joy and empowerment, and just be silly with it. It doesn’t have to have this weight all the time because coming out and understanding you’re queer, as difficult as it is, it is a weight off. I want this show to feel like that.
Absolutely, and it feels like when queer people are asked about their identity by cis-het people, it still falls into the, ‘How do you know if you haven’t had sex with a woman?’ or ‘Are you sure?’ So, to see queer people asking other queer people insightful questions is quite groundbreaking.
That goes all the way through behind-the-scenes, a majority of the crew and the people that created the show are queer and women. The presenters are queer! So, it goes all the way through the show and I think that shows. There’s a lot of in-jokes that you would only really get if you’re queer, but I also think it’s entertaining to people who just want to enjoy the culture. That’s something that we’ve seen with RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. I really love that the humour is almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, and you probably wouldn’t get it if you’re not queer. It’s very rooted in the community and I love that that’s translating.
This show looks directly at cis-het people and says, ‘You’re boring.’
That is the tea. Heteronormativity is extremely boring. It’s something that we were raised to revere and assimilate into. I’m really glad that people have started to cotton on to the fact that it is extremely boring. I’m glad we’re in this space and time where people can say ‘I’m gay’ with their chest or ‘I’m trans’ with their chest and not feel shame. We’re in a really nice place and I’m excited about where the future’s headed.
You mentioned how you and Tayce knew each other from the nightclub scene. When did you both realise that collaborating with each other was a winning formula?
Well, I actually wasn’t meant to host this show y’know…
Yeah! It was meant to be somebody else and I was a last minute addition, which is exciting because it just worked out that way. I couldn’t do it originally, and then I could do it. It just feels good to have that serendipitous element to it. It just all worked out for the best. Me and Tayce have always got on whenever we’ve seen each other and hung out. We’ve got a very similar sense-of-humour but different personalities and dynamic. I think we balance each other out – Tayce is much more chaotic than I am! I’m kind of like the ordered Virgo and Tayce is a chaotic Gemini, so I feel like we balance each other out. I sometimes need to wind her back and keep her on topic, and she reminds me to be in the moment and embrace the chaos. It’s a nice balance.
Queerpiphany, for a lot of queer people, will be the show that helps them feel comfortable and more at ease with their sexuality and/or gender identity. What show was that for you?
Erm… I really didn’t have that many. I think I’m from a time where we didn’t have queer role models. There wasn’t that many queer people on TV and when there was, it was slim-pickings. My generation often found themselves in the realm of diva worship with relating to cis women who captured the zeitgeist of the queer imagination, like Madonna or Britney or Christina or Beyoncé. We didn’t really have queer programming so it was grabbing it where you can. It’s exciting that we’re in this time where there’s so many queer people in the media and you don’t need to relate to somebody that you can’t see yourself in or who doesn’t represent you. There really is something and someone for everybody. I’m really excited that there’s been such a change in such a short amount of time.
For me, it was the female characters who kicked ass such as Buffy, Xena and the Charmed Ones.
I was a big Buffy fan! I was really into The Craft. I loved Death Becomes Her, I was obsessed with that movie. Hocus Pocus and Angelica Huston in The Witches… camp! Paris is Burning was probably the first time I saw myself reflected in somebody that I still see myself reflected in with Octavia St. Laurent, who was a young Black trans woman who was an aspiring model in New York in the 1980s. That was the first time I saw myself. She would be my Queerpiphany, I think. She really gave me… I don’t want to say ‘permission’, but she opened a door that started the ball rolling with me understanding myself and the world I was in. It sparked my curiosity to look deeper into the trans community and who started the gay rights movement, which led to the LGBT movement, which was Marsha P. Johnson, and once that door of curiosity is opened, it gives people that spark to not only explore their own identity, but make sense of the world they live in.
What piece of media this year has provided you with all the queer joy?
I’ll say Heartstopper because me and Yasmin have been friends for about a year, actually. I saw her in a campaign for NYX Cosmetics with Tayce, and I reached out to her like, ‘If you need any advice or you’re feeling overwhelmed with anything,’ because there’s not that many – if any – Black trans women in the media. I can’t name that many so I was like, ‘You’ve got a sister in me, and if you need any advice, I’m here.’ It’s been so amazing to see her take to all of the success like a duck to water. Seeing how much empowerment she has spread for young queer people on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s amazing to see. When I was watching Heartstopper I thought, ‘This is the next level of what we need when it comes to queer entertaining. So yeah, I’ll say Heartstopper. That’s the standout moment.
Seeing you and Yasmin march at Trans Pride this year felt like a monumental moment in the UK for LGBTQ+ rights and Trans Pride. What was it like sharing that experience with her?
Amazing. We talk a lot, so it’s amazing to see her shining. I feel like it’s a massive weight off my shoulders, not being the only Black trans woman in these spaces, so to be able to share that with somebody and have a little sister in the industry who I can offer advice to and have fun with, it feels great. I’m really hoping that her success opens the door to more trans people, especially trans POC, to gain success in the industry and inspire other people to go after their dreams too.
What are you most looking forward to viewers seeing in season two?
Well I’m looking forward to seeing it! There’s something for everyone, depending on what you enjoy most. There’s incredible fashion and it’s just so chaotic. Every single one of our guests has an amazing story but the way that it’s told is just very fun and contagious. We couldn’t stop laughing. I think Kitty Scott-Claus’ episode was the most chaotic because I was just laughing so much that I couldn’t breathe. I’ve actually had Kitty on my podcast, The Way We Are, and it was a struggle to get through it because she’s so hilarious. There’s such a different dynamic when the interviewer is queer and the talent is queer; the space just feels safe. All of our guests felt really safe to open up and be themselves completely, there’s no ‘gotcha!’ moment. It’s really all about empowering them to tell their story in a way that helps other people to understand theirs.
I know I’m jumping the gun here, but who are your dream guests for season three, four… five?
Ooh god! I’m so bad with on the spot questions. Olly Alexander, we need to get him in. He was supposed to do this season but was actually on tour and couldn’t do it. Michelle Visage, I would love her because she has such an interesting story and is the adopted aunty of the queer community. Nadia Almada from Big Brother! She was the first trans person, period, that I saw on television bar Haley Cropper from Coronation Street, who wasn’t actually trans.
Not Haley Cropper…
[Laughs] I love that [Nadia] captured the heart of the nation, and then the Tory papers weren’t having it and really tore her down. I think she has an amazing story and so many trans people from my generation really ride for her because she was flying the flag at a time when nobody was flying the flag. We had shows like There’s Something About Miriam, where straight men were competing, Bachelorette-style, to date this beautiful woman who happened to be trans and they didn’t know she was trans. When they found out, they all sued the producers for emotional distress and PTSD. That was the narrative when I was growing up, it was very dark, and Nadia being on Big Brother was a light-hearted moment of absolute chaos. It gave very Queerpiphany vibes! Definitely Nadia.
This would be so camp.
Rylan as well! We have been friends for god knows how long.
From one queer Gemini with an addiction to baked beans to another…
Oh yes, baby! The best kind. Honestly, I don’t know why no one’s booked me for a cooking show yet. I just don’t know why, because I’m obviously such an amazing culinary expert. It’s ridiculous.
Congratulations on season two of Queerpiphany, I had such a fun time with the premiere. I told Munroe that, to me, the series is a combination of a Red Bull and a Pride flag…
Yes! That is literally it. Anytime I sit around Munroe I feel like I get five times smarter. She’s such an intelligent force of knowledge and I think I bring a ferocious energy. It’s an amazing juxtaposition, know what I mean? She brings all this wisdom and knowledge and I come with my own too but I’m more like, ‘Waow!’
She’s an “ordered Virgo” and you’re a “chaotic Gemini”, right?
Exactly that. One of the most chaotic Gemini’s you’ll ever meet in your life, but I think we’re the best. You agree, obviously you do? Everyone needs a little bit of chaos and calamity in their lives, let it ensue and the good times roll!
For those who have, for some reason, not tuned into Queerpiphany, how would you describe the series?
I would describe it as a bunch of camp twats talking about their livelihoods, the ups and the downs and it’s not like, ‘Oh woe is me!’ It’s a celebration of queerness in the best way. Queer stories you hear, it’s all about the struggle and tragedy. It has a negative air around it and to have a show that just celebrates who we are as people and being able to educate people along the way, it’s amazing – and to have it on a platform like MTV is such a blessing.
This year, especially, we’re starting to witness queer joy come through in television and film such as Heartstopper and Fire Island… Did you both always intend for Queerpiphany to be, like you said, a celebration of queerness?
Definitely. It’s a lot more organic, especially when it’s queer on queer. If a straight person interviews a queer person it’s like, ‘Tell us your stories! Tell us your struggles!’ The show is all about chilling and having a great time and learning some amazing things about each other along the way.
This might be a big question, but what do you love most about being queer?
Ooh! I can’t even pinpoint it, I just love being myself and not giving a damn. I’ve always grown up trying to live my best life and not giving a damn about what anyone thinks. My dad always said, ‘Do what you want in life, as long as you’re not hurting anyone.’ Hopefully, I can inspire other people with my queerness. When I was a kid, there was not a little Welsh, mixed race RuPaul running around the place, know what I mean? I made that for myself and now I’ve inspired people to do the same. Heartstopper, for example, and Yasmin being on that show, it shows trans youth that they can do these amazing things no matter where you are or who you are.
What’s provided you with queer joy this year?
Definitely Heartstopper. You have these queer movies on Netflix but to have a show that you can really get down to… The youth are going to be growing up with shows like this now and hopefully the world will heal a bit and get better. Let’s get out all these oldies that are set in their ways and don’t know what it means to be queer and all the greatness that goes along with it. These kids are now growing up with Drag Race and Heartstopper and will be light-minded and open-minded. It can only go up from here. Hopefully!
Queerpiphany will be one of those shows, too. Was there a particular show for you that made you feel more comfortable in your queerness?
I’d have to say Drag Race. I started watching it when I was 13, something like that and I got insight into queer people. There weren’t a lot of shows like that with these queer folk running around and living their best lives. I didn’t know a lot about drag at all. When I was younger, I was always doing drag but it wasn’t drag to me, it was just me doing my own thing and dancing to the beat of my own drum. On shows like Drag Race you hear about the hardships people have gone through, and so you learn a lot.
What was the first season you watched of Drag Race? And also, who was the first queen you fell in love with?
I think it was season three with Raja. That was the one for me, because she gave me supermodel realness and that’s what I’ve always loved and aspired to be. When I was a kid, I would stay up late watching re-runs of these 80s, 90s supermodels just doing their thing and living that up. These people and strong female icons like Janet Jackson and Beyoncé made me want to go out there and attack the world, and hopefully that’s what I’m doing right now..
Tayce, you’re slaying it babe. Back to Queerpiphany, when did you and Munroe both realise that collaborating with each other was a recipe for success?
Anytime we’ve hung out, it’s always been a good time. You can tell on the show that we have a good rapport and this chemistry already. On a show like that, it’s something you need. You don’t want to go into a show where it’s two strangers getting to know each other. It’s more work than it needs to be. I’ve loved her for years and we bring some campness out in each other.
I can’t believe she wasn’t supposed to do the series at first? I can’t imagine it being anyone else…
Literally! If Munroe and I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t work at all. We’ve got that good, as you said, Red Bull and rainbow flag mixture.
What are you looking forward to viewers seeing in season two of Queerpiphany?
Honestly, the most amazing range of cast that we have. We touch base on music, trans rights, queer issues, upbringings and that’s what makes it what it is. It’s not one-note. It’s such an honour and a privilege to have a second season and hopefully many more.
Who would your dream guests be for season three, four, five, six? We’re manifesting a long run for this series!
I would love to interview Grace Jones, she’s one of my biggest idols of all time. She reminds me a lot of myself, she’s all over the place – the best way! You don’t know what’s going to come out of her mouth, and I think that’s a bit of me. If I can go beyond the grave and have a Miss Cleo vibe, I would love to interview Prince.
It’ll happen. We’ve not spoken about Drag Race at all in this interview, which is…
The season four cast is out, who have you got your eye on?
I’ve known a lot of these girls for a long time, I think there’s only one or two that I don’t know. Baby, I know really well and I’ve worked with her with Asttina Mandella. Black Peppa, absolutely love her and she’s a force to be reckoned with. Jonbers Blonde, I’ve worked with her at The Glory for years. I know Danny Beard and Cheddar Gorgeous, I worked with them in Manchester. It’s a really strong cast and it harks back to my cast, season two, and I think this cast is on that level as well. I’m really psyched to see what the girls do!
And Tayce, when can we expect a Drag Race comeback from you? All Stars? Vs the World?
I would love to do an All Stars one day. I always like to bide my time and pick the right moment and cherry pick when to do something. I don’t believe in rushing into things if you think something’s going to be good for you, because sometimes it’s not – timing is everything. You see some of these queens come back a year later, fresh off the bat of doing the season, and that’s all well and good but I want to come back grown and evolved. When I see a glimmer of a scene from my season now, I just look at myself like it’s a baby version of me. Not baby drag Tayce, but baby Drag Race Tayce. In the last few years, I’ve grown leaps and bounds from travelling the world and it’s made me more professional. I’d love to go on there one day and turn it out. I love my blood and I love my vengeance. I’m a vengeful bitch and we’ll come back and fuck it up one day, and hopefully win!
Bring on All Stars 9, 10, 11…
Yeah, let’s go on the American one and just fuck it up, know what I mean? They wouldn’t know what’s coming, especially with my Welsh ass…
Queerpiphany season 2 airs weekly from 8 September on MTV UK’s YouTube Channel.