Drag Superstar Plastique Tiara Is Elevating Asian Visibility

Fromthemoment she stepped onto the stage of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Plastique Tiara became a fan favorite — and she’s now the most followed drag star on TikTok. But the person behind the persona, Duc Tran Nguyen, had to navigate the complexities of her identity as a first-generation Vietnamese American immigrant before becoming a star.(Watch the video above.)

“I moved from Vietnam to the United States when I was 11 years old. And prior to that, I really didn’t have any experience with drag queens,” Tiara told HuffPost. “During that time in Vietnam, it was very scary to be gay.”

After moving to the U.S., Tiara watched “RuPaul’s Drag Race” for the first time.

“I was like, ‘I’m scared. But I kind of like it. I don’t know what this is. But I see myself in this show,’” she said.

Tiara made her dazzling debut on Season 11 of the MTV show. During her time on the series, she opened up about her journey as a Vietnamese drag queen and her family’s cultural differences toward accepting her identity.

Her captivating performances garnered widespread attention, notably during the season finale, as she proudly appeared in a traditional Vietnamese ao dai dress.

“I think that made a huge impact everywhere, and especially in Vietnam,” she said. “And I still get comments about it to this day, like, ‘That was the first time I saw an ao dai worn by a drag queen. And it meant so much to me.’”

While drag in Vietnam is mostly performed underground, there has been progress in the country’s acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights. The first official Viet Pride celebration took place in 2012; it has continued to be an annual celebration in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnam’s more relaxed internet regulations have empowered queer and transgender individuals, fostering online communities that offer support and connection — with figures like Tiara playing a pivotal role within these spaces.

“I just want to inspire the little boys out there in Vietnam who never knew that they could do something like this,” Tiara said. “There’s no bounds to drag. ... Drag is something that is so magical that when you look into a mirror, you see your most wildest dream coming true.”