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For a fashion queen, Gigi Goode can't be bothered with labels. Not when it comes to the couture ensembles she wore on the main stage during RuPaul's Drag Race season 12, or her lifelong exploration of gender. And certainly not when it comes to relationships, especially when it comes to falling in love with a certain other Ru Girl.
Born Samuel Geggie, the would-be drag queen grew up in Woodstock, Illinois -- "where Groundhog Day was filmed," she tells ET. "It's the only thing we've got going for us, other than yours truly being on RuPaul's Drag Race" -- and remembers feeling inspired watching Dorothy's Emerald City makeover in The Wizard of Oz. According to his mom, when Sam was 3, he asked her, "Why did God make me a boy? I'm supposed to be a girl."
"It seemed like such a genuine, innocent thing that came across my mind," Gigi opens up on the latest episode of Unfiltered. Now, she isn't so concerned about answering those questions. "It not something that is important for me to address. Gender is always something I've chosen my own path for."
"If there were to be someone who would come along and try to tell me who I was supposed to be or how I was supposed to dress," she adds, "I would just shrug it off and say, 'OK, well, that's your opinion. I'm just going to keep doing exactly what I'm going to do.' I remember having that mentality at such a young age."
Sam officially made his drag debut at 15. "Because that's when I became aware of the actual term. But I've been dressing up as a girl since as long as I can remember." He secretly ordered a lace front wig and donned a crop top and leather leggings to channel Iggy Azalea. Sans nails, pads or a mastery of contouring, that first performance was a far cry from the Gigi we know today.
Still, "Imagine me, super queer at 15 years old, getting this opportunity to just play dress up and get onstage," Gigi recalls. "I can remember the pitter patter of my heart to this day." His parents learned about that first gig via Snapchat and though they were initially disapproving, the self-proclaimed mama's boy soon found an ally in his mom, costume designer Kristi Geggie, as Gigi's aesthetic left Iggy Iggs behind for a '50s housewife phase.
"My mom has this cedar closet in our basement that is packed full of vintage dresses and hats and accessories and jewelry. At the time, my dad didn't know about it, so it was almost like a little speakeasy," Gigi recalls.
It wasn't long before Kristi was creating custom designs for Gigi. "She wasn't making a dress for a drag queen," Gigi says. "She was making something for her son to wear in order to bring passion into his life and to make him feel comfortable in his own skin."
It wasn't long after that RuPaul came calling. At 21, Gigi was cast to compete on the biggest drag stage of them all, owning the Drag Race runway with a closet full of Kristi's designs: A pastel motorcycle look fashioned from their church's Easter tablecloths, an orange dress suit tallying some 25,000 hand-applied buttons, an '80s prom dress Kristi finished the night before Gigi left for the show. Gigi credits her success to her mother's support, while it was through Drag Race that Gigi's father was able to come around and for the first time, tell his son that he is proud of him.
"Once that piece of the puzzle finally came in, it was like a liberation," says Gigi, then shrugs. "He doesn't know anything about drag, so there's nothing to talk to him about it. But he'll listen and he'll understand and respect, and that's something I never thought that I would get from him."
Gigi made it to season 12's grand finale alongside eventual winner Jaida Essence Hall and fellow runner-up Crystal Methyd, with whom Gigi sparked rumors of a Werk Room showmance. The two played coy when asked about it at the reunion. "I don't think that I have been concealing anything when it comes to my relationship with Crystal," Gigi counters. "I think it's been hidden in plain sight. No one's just been willing to dig deep enough."
Pass us the shovel, then.
"I love Crystal with my whole heart. I thought I didn't give a sh*t about what people thought? When I met Crystal and understood that her drag is for nobody else except for her, that is, like, immediately when I fell head over heels for her," Gigi says. "We're such different people with such similar values and moral beliefs and ways of thinking that, I don't know, it just is a perfect pairing."
Naturally, she doesn't feel the need to define the relationship. "I feel relationships nowadays are so much more than just a label. Everyone is conditioned to believe they have to be in a relationship and there has to be a label put on it. I have never believed in that," she laments.
Gigi completed her Drag Race run with a deeper sense of self and confidence in her art, the support of her parents and a somethingship that defies defining. ("I do not ever see us losing contact from each other or falling out of love," she adds of Crystal.) She doesn't feel like she was robbed of the crown -- only of the full Drag Race experience, due to the coronavirus pandemic -- and in a few years, once she's had time to grow into the next phase of Gigi Goode, she might consider returning for All Stars.
"Next year, Gigi will be completely different. The year after, Gigi will be completely different. But she will always be that fashion illustration, don't get it twisted," she says. Because at the end of the day, though Gigi will evolve, the person that she is -- and Sam is -- will remain the same. "I don't think that there's much of a difference between Sam and Gigi -- except for the obvious visual difference. Gigi is the most realized version of Sam that there is."