As Brave and as Strong as We Want to Be

Raised in Dallas, Texas, and blown up in Hollywood, California, Laganja Estranja is the drag world’s crossover star touting equal rights, freedom, and parties on the beach with rosé and hash. After emerging on RuPaul’s Drag Race as a star, Laganja—born Jay Evan Jackson to two high school guidance counsellors—quickly used her celebrity as a platform both in and out of cannabis to proclaim personal freedoms, tolerance and positive vibes. Whether on television, at shows, or featured in the new "House Of Pride” campaign by McDonald’s, Laganja is an activist; an outspoken frontline warrior and someone who's mission of equal rights and blunts has made the cannabis world in which we all live in so much better for all she does, how she lives, and what she embodies. Ben Kaplan, the editor of kind, reached Laganja in Palm Springs, of course.
  • Ben Kaplan: This edition is all about positive vibes. Give me the perfect Laganja Estranja summer afternoon.

    Laganja Estranja: On a beach with rosé in one hand and some weed in the other. That’s a good afternoon to me. And we need music! Let’s say we’re listening to Malia Civetz. I worked with her during covid and she’s so talented and her music is timeless. She writes for so many people and has for decades.

  • BK: You seem so comfortable in your skin, so fearless. Can you talk about your journey?

    LE: My journey has been constant growth and constant change. I really stepped away from my parents. My mother was a high school guidance counsellor, but I went to an arts high school and when I got there, I got to find out who I was as an individual and you know what? If I could talk to myself at 16, I would say: enjoy the process. You’re going to be beautiful.

  • BK: Were you out at 16?

    LE: I identified as gay and started expressing myself honestly and became comfortable with the fact that I was feminine.

  • BK: Now that you’re on a billboard in Times Square, do you wish you would’ve been easier on yourself at 16?

    LE: I would’ve told myself to believe in myself more and not be so afraid.

  • BK: Everyone needs to hear that at every point of their lives.

    LE: To all kind readers, you’re going to be beautiful. Enjoy the process! Now they all know.

  • BK: These days, you’re known as much for your activism as you are for your music and stage show. Was it difficult finding your voice?

    LE: I’ve always thought my voice matters. I was taught at a young age that as an artist you have the power to affect people—even if it’s one person in the audience, your art can change someone's life.

  • BK: You were ready for the spotlight when RuPaul came calling?

    LE: After that, and touring internationally, I really had to pay attention. Like, wait, they want me to sing in Singapore? I realized I had been put on a global stage and it was up to me to keep this alive and keep doing this—or ultimately fizzle away.

  • BK: You fizzling away doesn’t feel likely.

    LE: Did you know that the first time I performed at the Cannabis Cup I was booed offstage?

  • BK: Bullshit.

    LE: Yeah, and it was a pivotal moment in my life because I realized: it’s not going to be easy. So I had to make a choice: was this something I wanted? I chose yes and continued to fight and provide visibility in the cannabis industry.

  • BK: Bad-ass.

    LE: I’m as brave and as strong as I want to be.

  • BK: We all are.

    LE: We are. But I believe in real work. I work my butt off every day. And I put my money where my mouth is. Every dollar I earn I spend back into my art. Step one? Believe. Every other step is all about putting the work in.

  • BK: And weed?

    LE: We’re in a very monogamous relationship. I see her every day.

  • BK: You’re close?

    LE: She’s a very dear friend—an integral part of my life.

  • BK: You told us that story of the Cannabis Cup and we’ve heard some things from friends up here who’ve gotten a tough time in the industry. Can you talk about homophobia in weed?

    LE: I wish it wasn’t there, but it is and someone has to fight it.

  • BK: We appreciate that sincerely and our readers are going to be proud of this issue and you on our cover.

    LE: I’m proud to do it and proud to be here for them, but we're seeing companies doing more and saying the right things and, whether it’s authentic or not, we’ll see. If they’re just faking allyship eventually we’ll know. But I’ve partnered with awesome companies and I’m grateful.

  • BK: Cannabis being homophobic just feels so wrong.

    LE: Cannabis needs to care about us, it's getting better, and I hate to say it, but at the end of the day, it’s still a homophobic industry no matter how many rainbows company's tout.

  • BK: Are you seeing any improvement?

    LE: There’s good steps being done. Things are getting better. Slow progress is still progress, right?

  • BK: What are your words to our queer readers, to folks still battling discrimination and trying to find their way?

    LE: You are not alone and every second, live your life out loud.

  • BK: Thank you for your time, my friend. Last words to the readers of kind?

    LE: Celebrate yourself. You’re a beautiful individual on this earth and you matter just as you are.