RuPaul’s Drag Race star Willam Belli has responded to critics after making transphobic comments in an online TV show.
Fans reacted with anger earlier this week after comments that the drag artist, who appeared on the fourth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, made on live TV show ‘Suck Less’.
During one segment on the Fullscreen show, Willam and fellow drag queen Courtney Act answered a question from a viewer thinking of dating a trans man.
Willam referenced the killing of Brandon Teena, a trans man who was brutally raped and murdered in Nebraska in 1993,
The drag artist trivialised Brandon’s murder, suggesting it was his fault because “he bamboozled the girl… he was trans but he could have told them.”
They added: “just because you cut your titties off and take testosterone, that doesn’t change your chromosomes.”
The comments led to a backlash from horrified fans as well as from Courtney, who reacted with shock and repeatedly challenged William.
But in a follow-up video, Belli apologises for the “terrible” remarks.
The drag star says: “I feel like I didn’t know stuff.
“I’m glad there are people out there asking why I made this comment instead of just hating me, because I’m friends with so many trans people.
“Courtney told me that gender is different than sex, which I’m trying to understand… I’m getting it, I’m learning, I didn’t know, and I hope my education catches up with the evolution of thought.
“I feel bad about how I made people feel about it, and this is my official apology.”
On the comments, Willam said: “I was trying to explain what I thought. My grandma had a double mastectomy, and my mom said, boobs don’t make a woman.
“In my head I said, ‘just because you don’t have tits doesn’t mean you’re a man’, because my grandma didn’t have tits. People don’t see all the wheels that are going in my head, how slowly or how poorly they’re operating.
“I need to apologise for it, because I didn’t say everything I was thinking and it hurt people. I’m sad that my not knowing these things made my friends feel [hurt] justifiably, and made people I don’t even know not like me.
“I have to be more responsible to my words.”
Willam’s comments had originally sparked anger from fans of Drag Race, which has had a number of transgender contestants.
On the Reddit, one fan wrote: “christ, as a trans man this is genuinely disappointing and hurtful.”
Another added: “I really don’t get gays being transphobic. there’s already soooo much negativity from outside the community, why just spew even more inside the community at people who’ve had similar experiences?”
Others praised Courtney Act for her calm and diplomatic answers, with one fan adding: “Courtney, if you’re one of the queens who occasionally shows up on reddit, thanks so much!”