Entertainment

As ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Wraps Up Its 11th Season, Let’s Have A Well Deserved Moment Of Silence For Miss Shuga Cain

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Reality television can be cruel for both contestants and fans. Sometimes our favorite faces leave way too early, and we are left wanting to get to know them a bit better. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has both broken and lifted our spirits for almost a decade and this 11th season has not been the exception.

One of the most beloved queens of recent times has been Suga Cain, the curvaceous and salacious diva who makes strong political statements (yes, she went there and dressed like President Donald Trump, as you will see in images below). She has entertained us with her unique style. She came in 7th in the season, but in our hearts, she is a true winner.

Jesus Martinez is the man behind the elegant and vivacious queen Miss Shuga Cain.

Credit: missshugacain / Instagram

One of the best things about Shuga Cain’s Instagram is the fact that we get to see both facets of her life: a proud gay man and a professional and sparkly queen with tons of creativity. 

And that boy sure packs some serious muscles.

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Jesus, miren a Jesus! Martinez is a consummate sportsman, a triathlete who runs-bikes-swims to compete with the best. This certainly gives Miss Shuga Cain the required strength for all those acrobatic dances she has delighted us with. 

He is also in love with this handsome bear, her partner Gilbert Gaona.

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Ay, madre santa, son tan lindos. Look at these two, Jesus and his fiancé Gilbert in the City of Lights, Paris, enjoying some much-needed couple time. This photo is so cliche, but we love it. Que sean felices por los siglos de los siglos y amen. 

Gilbert is ultra supportive so, of course, we love him already.

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We love Gilbert’s Instagram almost as much as we love Shuga’s! Here, he shows his support for su corazoncito and captures the pride and flashiness of queer culture.

But what does Shuga Cain even mean?

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The origin of the stage name is threefold. First ingredient: sugar, of course, as she loves all things candy and baking. Second ingredient: the character Shug Avery from the novel “The Color Purple”(if you only watched the Steven Spielberg film that’s OK, we give you a pass). Third ingredient: the performance artist Candis Cayne. 

Jesus had a corporate job that he quit to become Shuga Cain.

Credit: missshugacain / Instagram

Sometimes you have to let go of your current life and really shake your life to the core if you want to pursue your dreams, and that is exactly what Jesus did to deliver this ravaging queen.

It only took her 18 months to succeed as a drag queen.

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A mere year and a half after Jesus quit his six-figure pay, Shuga Cain was already a fixture in the very competitive New York drag queen circuit. Dreams don’t wait for you, do they?

Her secret weapon: opera and performance theater and she slayyyys.

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We can really see the influence that performance artist Candis Cayne has had on Shuga: her style is based in opera-like extravaganza and out-there outfits that verge on the sublime.

Jesus has Latin American and Native American heritage making his drag super poignant and doubly beautiful.

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She is as proudly Brown as it gets! Some of her outfits speak of her ancestral roots in the land that is now the United States of America. Her papito is from El Salvador and her mamita is Spanish and Native American (Apache) from New Mexico.

She’s a Cali girl!

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That’s right: she might have made her name in the Big Apple, but her freshness and onstage dorky attitude scream California. She was born in the town of Magalia, a small town in the forest. How cute!

Her elimination was, and is still, very controversial.

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It happened in episode 10 when she was sent home by Vanessa Vanjie Mateo. Fans of the show immediately became keyboard warriors and blamed the producers, arguing that they wanted to send her home because they always saw her as a filler contestant. 

Of course, Shuga Cain didn’t remain quiet.

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That thing of calladita te ves mas bonita didn’t apply for Miss Cain, who has been very vocal about the unfairness of her elimination. She has been supported by fans. Will we see her return in a future All-Stars? 

She has one of the best entrance quotes in “RuPaul’s Drag Race” history.

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“Get ready y’all, cause this sugar is so sweet!” Ay, mamacita divina.

 She is 41-year-old, which makes her older than many contestants of the show but she is just as graceful and energetic as the younger queens.

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That is right, she was born in 1977. One of her most memorable quotes is “I can be your grandmother, girl.” She said that to Plastique Tiara, referring to her age. She also said: “Do I have to really say 40?” Te amamos, reinita chula de preciosa

Her farewell message was tender and supportive even if the elimination was crap.

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And we quote: “You all hold a very special place in my heart. Make Nana proud ♡ Shuga.” Can we even love her more? 

You can feel Shuga Cain’s Scorpio energy.

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She is only the third Scorpio on the show and the first since season 5. Maybe being outspoken played against her? Was it the stars that aligned in her detriment? We should ask Walter. 

She’s an incredibly self-sufficient entrepreneur.

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After her fame skyrocketed she created her website, https://www.shugssweetshop.com/, where you can book her for a show and buy licensed products. Maybe this is only the beginning of her American Dream.

We cannot forget about the time Shuga Cain became Charo for the Snatch Game.

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Shuga Cain often makes veiled references to popular culture. Her Snatch Game look as Charo was a revelation of monumental proportions. We still think about it because it was just so damn good.

She performs all around the world, as a true queen should.

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Montreal, Vienna, Toronto… Miss Shuga Cain is everywhere, and perhaps her elimination encouraged her to be a globetrotter. Wanna check out if she will be in your city soon, here are her tour details

She wears her age as a badge of honor.

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She told Jezebel:  “I’ve had all these years to build all these incredible skills as a person, as an actor, and as an artist. I mean, it’s still scary, and I still go through it. But like I feel like I’m better able to handle the stresses of what it is, and I know how to behave and how to act.”

Did we say she has a Master’s degree in opera?

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Many were surprised by the fact that she was chosen in only her second try, but the fact is that she has been performing since she was a little boy. She has a higher degree in opera, so turning life into theatrical experiences is nothing new to her.

Here’s a cute funny picture of her to wrap this up because we could keep going.

Credit: missshugacain / Instagram

Those Snapchat filters really suit her! ❤️

OK, last picture, we promise.

Credit: missshugacain / Instagram

And what about this homage to She-Ra, a queer symbol like any other? We just can’t get enough sugar, can we?

READ: ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Fans Have Serious Questions About Shuga Cain’s Unjust Elimination

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

Entertainment

Two Trans Latinas In New York Are Starting A Beauty Co-Op To Help Trans Women Build Their Businesses

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Four years ago, Lesly Herrera Castillo and Joselyn Mendoza both had a vision to create a worker-owned makeup and hair salon for the trans Latino community in Jackson Heights, New York. It was ambitious and for them, it was necessary. For years, the duo faced racial and gender discrimination from employers. Their own community, Jackson Heights, was also becoming a problem as the area became the site of multiple anti-trans hate crimes in recent years. So they came together with a plan to open Mirror Beauty Cooperative in 2015.

The beauty shop would create numerous jobs for the local trans community but more importantly assist undocumented individuals who were denied opportunities due to their legal status. So Castillo and Mendoza made the important decision to register the business as a cooperative cooperation (co-op). This was done so the salon would basically be “worker-run” and there would be no need for things like social security numbers, an obstacle many undocumented workers face when applying to jobs. Instead, the salon will use individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs).

“The significance of the cooperative for me is that it’s an opportunity to create more jobs and make a space that’s free of discrimination,” Mendoza told the HuffPost. “As trans women, we don’t often have access to a healthy economy, and this allows us to change that and obtain other services like health care.”

While their idea started four years ago, the duo hasn’t yet obtained a physical space to open up the salon. But they hope with enough support this vision can become a reality. 

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While both Castillo and Mendoza haven’t opened up a physical salon space, they are both continuing to work in other salons as they continue to save and plan for the Mirror Beauty Cooperative. This past May they began to reach out to more people to help fund their goal through a GoFundMe Campaign. The results of the campaign fund have been less than 1 percent of their $150,000 goal. The duo has also faced other socioeconomic setbacks like lack of traditional education and the economic instability due to their immigrant background. 

“Latina trans women always have multiple obstacles in the way,” Mendoza said. “I think if a collective of white trans women were to start a project like this, their incubation process would be faster than ours because of their historical access to privilege.” 

But Herrera notes that the white trans community is still an ally to them even though they are on different economic levels. “We can always depend on the white trans community” to offer support “because they know they’re on a better [economic] level.”

For the trans, gender-queer and nonbinary community, job discrimination has been a reoccurring issue. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 16 percent of gender-queer and nonbinary respondents who had held jobs reported having been fired for their gender identity or expression. But for trans women and trans people of color, they were the most likely to have gone through this. 

While the salon is still in progress, Castillo and Mendoza have become a presence in their own neighborhood uplifting and bringing attention to the trans Latino community. 

As of now, the duo has a secret backup plan in case they don’t meet their fundraising goals by the end of the year. They hope that the campaign does one thing though, create and share their broader call for building community with people. 

That has already started to take place as Castillo, Hernandez and their new partner, Jonahi Rosa have all become presences in Jackson Heights advocating for the trans community. The trio even participated in the Queens Pride Parade as co-grand marshals. This has also included various charity events for local LGTBQ+ youth. 

They all feel that the salon has the potential to bring people together and spread awareness about issues that affect their lives every day. From the start, the trio has always wanted to not only create a space for the trans community but give them an opportunity. 

“We want to work, [and] we want to give agency to our community,” Rosa said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for our community to come together and make something for our future.”

READ: Our FIERCE Readers Share Some of the Most Outrageous Lies They’ve Told To Get Some Time Away With Their Boo

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

Things That Matter

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

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After nearly two years in detention, Alejandra Barrera, a 44-year-old transgender Salvadorian activist, was released from an ICE facility in New Mexico late last Friday. Human rights activists and the transgender immigrant community are rejoicing at the news that Barrera will finally be freed after being held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017.

Barrera, who hails from El Salvador, fled her country due to discrimination and persecution. Shortly after seeking asylum in the U.S, she was detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention center with a unit specifically for transgender women that opened in 2017, according to the Phoenix New Times. During her time at the detention facility, there were numerous complaints of abuse and maltreatment of inmates that included the death of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender woman who died of HIV-related complications last year. 

 Before leaving El Salvador, Barrera was a well-known activist in her home country where she stood up for transgender rights for over a decade. But with this attention also came attacks from local gangs and the Salvadoran military who targeted her and forced her to eventually leave in and claim asylum in November 2017. In spite of all of this, Barrera was repeatedly denied asylum in the U.S.

Many people and organizations helped build awareness around the release of Barrera. But it was the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that made the world know her story. 

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Barrera’s release is the culmination of a year-long campaign by multiple nonprofit organizations like the Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition and the National Immigrant Justice Center. This also included the help of federal lawmakers like Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) 

Many first heard the story of Barrera with the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that circulated online for months spreading awareness of her detention. A Change.org petition demanding her freedom received more than 36,000 signatures and raised awareness of Barerra’s case using the hashtag #FreeAlejandra.

“Through letters of support, people from around the world gave me the strength to continue in this struggle that was so hard for me. I’m here to keep fighting”  Barrera said in response to everyone that helped share her story. 

Bamby Salcedo, the executive director of Translatin@ Coalition, acknowledged all the work put forth to have Barrera finally released. She said in a video posted to Facebook the day of  Barrera’s release that her “heart is so full of joy” now that Barrera is finally out.

“It was because of all of your calls, because of all of you signing petitions, showing up to the rallies, showing up the press conferences, her lawyers – everyone – all of you who wrote letters to Alejandra, everyone who participated in la campaigna de #FreeAlejandra – should be very proud because this is one more victory and we should be able to celebrate,” Salcedo said in the video. 

Barrera is currently released on parole while she waits for her asylum case to go to immigration court.

Credit: @mghtranshealth / Twitter

While Barrera is out and getting to enjoy her freedom, her fight for asylum is not over just yet. As of now, Barrera’s asylum status is still not secure and must now continue to fight against her deportation. If she is not granted asylum, Barrera faces the daunting possibility of being deported back to El Salvador. 

Denise Bell, Amnesty International’s researcher for refugee and migrant rights, told the Daily News that while her organization is happy that Barrera is out of ICE detention, the fight is not over yet. Bell says that she hopes that Barrera’s case becomes an example of what happens when people come together to bring awareness to a good cause. 

“We don’t think that she should be returned to El Salvador, where we are gravely concerned for her well-being,” Bell told the Daily News. “Trans people in detention are at a special risk of abuse because of their special medical needs, often, and [because of] their gender identity. So we just want to draw attention to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other trans people who are seeking asylum, who are in immigration detention [and] who should be released on parole

Barrera is currently being represented by Rebekah Wolf of the Equal Justice Coalition, who fought and brought awareness for her release. While she seeks refuge, Barrera will stay with a sponsor from the TransLatin@ Coalition. 

According to the Washington Blade, ICE estimates that at least 111 transgender people who are being held in U.S. detention centers. The number is an increase that what ICE estimated just five months prior and it does not include detainees that might have been uncounted. 

READ: Mexico Has Become The World’s Second-Deadliest Country For Transgender People To Live And Many Are Worried