RuPaul's Drag Race: Jeff Goldblum receives backlash for Islam comments to Jackie Cox

‘As if America hasn’t been anti-gay and anti-woman from the outset, or killed and displaced millions of Muslims, including women and queers,’ one critic retorted

Roisin O'Connor
Sunday 26 April 2020 11:15
Jackie Cox emotionally explains why Trump's Muslim travel ban affected her on RuPaul's Drag Race

Jeff Goldblum has found himself the subject of a backlash after asking a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race if Islam is “anti-homosexuality” and “anti-woman”.

The actor and musician appeared as a guest judge on an episode of the show’s 12th season, in which the seven remaining queens walked a runway with a “Stars & Stripes” patriotic theme.

Iranian-Canadian contestant Jackie Cox designed a red-striped kaftan with a blue hijab outlined with 50 silver stars. In a voiceover she said: “You can be Middle-Eastern, you can be Muslim and you can still be American.”

During the judge’s critiques, Goldblum asked Cox if she was religious. “I am not,” Cox responded. “To be honest, this outfit really represents the importance that visibility for people of religious minorities need to have in this country.”

Goldblum continued to question Cox about how Islam treats LGBT+ people.

“Is there something in this religion that is anti-homosexuality and anti-woman? Does that complicate the issue? I'm just raising it and thinking out loud and maybe being stupid,” he said.

The show’s other judges joined in on a conversation about Islam. At one point, Ru Paul noted that drag has “always shaken the tree, so to speak”, in an apparent reference to the sensitivity of the topic.

“There are so many different layers to this presentation. If it was ever going to be done, this is the stage to do it,” the host added.

Cox agreed that “it’s a complex issue” and she has her “own misgivings about the way LGBT people are treated in the Middle East”.

“At the same time, I am one,” she continued. “What is so important to me is that if you just happen to be different, then live that truth.”

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

Drag Race fans criticised Goldblum’s comments on social media, with some pointing out that Islam is far from the only religion to have discriminated against women and LGBT+ people.

“Jeff Goldblum went on television to say Muslims are ‘anti-homosexuality and anti-woman’. It’s only the first day of Ramadan,” one fan tweeted.

“The WORST moment this week was Jeff Goldblum's wildly unnecessary comment about homophobia and sexism in Islam,” another wote. “So many queens have worn Christian imagery and not once were they questioned about s**t like that. Jackie's runway was powerful and she didn't deserve that.”

Author and poet Omar Sakr tweeted: “Jeff Goldblum felt the need to say 'but isn't Islam anti-gay and anti-woman' to Jackie because she was wearing a stars-and-stripes hijab, as if America hasn't been anti-gay and anti-woman from the outset, or killed and displaced millions of Muslims, including women and queers...”

Journalist and writer Wajahat Ali said: “Jeff Goldblum's question about Islam to the performer wearing hijab in #DragRace always makes me wonder what folks say about us Muslims behind our backs. This was him holding back & trying to be sensitive. He's well-travelled, informed & he's from “liberal Hollywood.” I wonder...”

The Independent has contacted a representative for Goldblum.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in