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In a world exclusive, meet the ten queens battling it out to be the UK’s first ever drag superstar.

Photography Darren Bell / / Words Sam Damshenas / / Retouching Anisa Cleaver Hair & Makeup Supervisor Holly Sliwka / / Group Image Edit Rebecca Pitt

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines, because the official cast for the highly-anticipated debut season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is H-ER- E, here! This October, ten sickening queens will sashay down the runway and compete for the title of the UK’s first Drag Race Superstar on BBC Three. RuPaul will return as host and main judge alongside best squirrel friend Michelle Visage, as well as newcomers - and British icons - Alan Carr and Graham Norton.

“Oh my goodness, when they see this show, they are going to flip,” RuPaul said in a statement. “And I predict that we will be doing this English edition of Drag Race for many years to come. I think also, audiences around the world are going to start to require the English version, because it’s different, it’s the same but it’s different. There’s a different tone.”

Since Drag Race pranced onto our screens back in 2009, the show has introduced fans to over 100 gag-worthy queens, all of which have ga.ed us with their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent (and synergy, but we don’t talk about that). While it’s often been said that drag will “never be mainstream”, the series has become an international phenomenon, earning 23 Emmy Award nominations with three consecutive wins for Mama Ru as Outstanding Host.

The show also made HERstory when it became the first television series to win Emmy’s for the latter and Outstanding Reality-Competition Program in the same year. HERstory honey! So, it comes as no surprise that the BBC will be opening its doors to showcase the finest drag that Britain has to offer, and after kiki-ing with the queens, it seems like it will be as British as mothertucking possible.

From a host of exciting guest stars (including Cheryl, Geri Halliwell and MNEK); to the iconic Snatch Game, which will no doubt feature impersonations of several British pop culture staples (we’re keeping our fingers crossed for Gemma Collins!); to the chart-topping British anthems that will be lip-synced to on the main stage, there’s plenty to look forward to.

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NEW WAVE A new wave is taking over. A generation of queer identifying people are occupying mainstream spaces and using it to tell their unique story – often without limitations. And in this digital world, that equals power. From that, it develops into people like us having immediate access to content inclusive of entertainment shows, first-hand stories without your horrible corporate filer, and it be varied viewpoint. The types of stories that our friends have, but so often don’t tell. Stories that we all know exist but are hungry for more of. These stories that dive deeper into our collective history and existence to be available for everyone – and for mainstream platforms to be embracing the content on an unparalleled level – is a clear indication of progression. In this 499th issue of GAY TIMES, join us as we celebrate this new wave of visibility within many previously ignored spaces; and the people behind some of the success. JONATHAN VAN NESS Having spoken earlier in the year about their gender nonconforming identity and ready for world domination with his new book, a live world tour and a new season of Queer Eye, 2019 is the year of Jonathan Van Ness. In an exclusive conversation with Tom Rasmussen, the formidable grooming guru on the undeniable beauty of gender nonconforming people, why visibility for queer people on mainstream platforms is vital for our collective progression, and his smokey relationship with Netflix co-star Antoni Porowski. CHARLI XCX With the release of her incredible, self-titled third studio album on the horizon – which features a host of queer talent such as Pabllo Vittar, Christine and the Queens, Big Freedia, Brooke Candy and Kim Petras - Charli XCX continues to push the pop agenda forward, all while raising LGBTQ voices. For our new issue, Charli linked up with friend and fellow pop fave Troye Sivan to discuss the long-awaited album and why she wouldn't be here without support from the LGBTQ community.