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First Muslim drag queen on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” hails from Kenya

The American television series “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has unveiled its Season 11 cast – and it includes the show’s first ever Muslim drag star. “Mercedes Iman Diamond” moved from Kenya to the United States at the age of 11 but the persona was not born for another 10 years.



Kenyan-born Curran, known by the drag name “Mercedes Iman Diamond”, is not only the first Muslim queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race, but also the first Kenyan and only the second African, after drag star Bebe Zahara Benet. Coincidentally, both African drag queens hail from the American state of Minnesota.

The VH1 show’s website explains how Curran settled on her drag name: It refers to the first Mercedes Benz that Curran owned at the start of her drag career, her sister’s name, “Iman”, and, lastly, “Diamond”, after her drag mother.

Mercedes Iman Diamond, the self-described “African Princess”, is well established on the pageant circuit. Mercedes refers to herself as an “everything queen” and claims to surpass most labels. Most labels except for Muslim, that is… The 31-year-old has said that she was excited about preaching her message of being true to oneself.

Mambo Online profiles Mercedes as being “all about the “body-ody-ody”. Mercedes “owns any stage she sets foot on, dazzling the crowd with her graceful presence and the expensive bling she is named after”.

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The 15 queens that make up the cast for the drag-tastic 11th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race hail from across the US, Vietnam, Korea and Kenya. The contestants include a former corporate executive, a professional ballet dancer and the reigning Miss Black Universe.


Since the news broke of Mercedes Iman Diamond’s participation in the show, reaction has been trickling in, with people wanting clarity over her ethnicity. Is the drag star Kenyan, Somali or Kenyan-Somali? Neither groups seems overly keen to claim her, but there are exceptions who are excited at the prospect and wish her success.