In Council News, Nicolas O'Rourke, Rue Landau by Khara Garcia

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During yesterday’s City Council meeting, At-Large Councilmembers Nicolas O’Rourke and Rue Landau co-introduced a resolution honoring Sapphira Cristál, 14-time Drag Queen pageant winner and RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist.

Tonight, on the Season 16 finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Sapphira Cristál — the first to represent Philly’s drag scene on the program — will gift the nation with her final lipsync. Her groundbreaking, season-long presence saw her become a national favorite, winning the mini challenge, maxi challenge, and lip sync all in the first episode. 

“Thank you so much, it is such a great honor to receive this resolution,” said Cristál, of the occasion. “I’ve lived in Philadelphia for almost 10 years now, and it was an honor and privilege to represent the city on RuPaul’s Drag Race.” 

Beyond Drag Race, Council recognized Sapphira Cristál’s history in Philadelphia as an individual performer and member of the drag group “Philly’s Foxes,” also praising fellow drag queens Maria Topcatt, Iris Spectre, Omyra Lynn, Poison, Mary D’Knight, and Zsa Zsa St. James.

53662272067_fdc6ae2f32_oSapphira Cristál was also recognized for her work throughout the city and nation to inspire young people through appearances at colleges, youth camps, and high schools. She’s taught several years of master classes in drag makeup and performance at Emerson College, and given artist talks at Rockland Community College. An experienced attitude and stage presence coach, Sapphira has also taught master classes at the Philadelphia Burlesque Academy and various dance studios.

“The rest of the country has been introduced to a star who many Philadelphians have been privileged to have front-row seats for, and even learn from,” commented Councilmember O’Rourke. “I’m glad Council had an opportunity to thank her for her work and celebrate her success.”


While celebrating Sapphira Cristál, Council affirmed the venues, parties, protests, and events that foster and further Philadelphia’s LGBTQIA+ community — particularly in a period of scapegoating, villainization, criminalization, and attempts to erase LGBTQIA+ history around the nation.

“I am beyond excited to honor the incredible talent of Sapphira Cristal, a powerhouse Black Drag Queen from Philly who is captivating audiences on Drag Race,” said Councilmember Landau. “As Philly’s first LGBTQ+ person elected to City Council, it is my honor to celebrate and uplift the Black LGBTQ+ community, who have long been leaders and changemakers in our city.”

“Sapphira Cristal’s success is a testament to the power of being unapologetically true to oneself, and I am thrilled to recognize her achievements during our Council session. Let us continue to support and uplift Black voices in our community, both on and off the stage.”

Tyrell Brown, Executive Director of GALAEI, also spoke to the places and spaces that have been bedrocks of community and centers of care.

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