This story has been submitted by Alex Mathew.
“People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives, they lead.” – James Baldwin.
Ever since my drag debut in September 2014, my purpose was to show the right path to people who have been lost in their lives. I was one of them. I am a 32-year-old queer cisgender man who performs as an Indian Drag Queen.
I never knew that fame would be knocking on the door after a few years of my first public drag performance. During my early teens, I was distraught, angry, and felt horrible because my schoolmates used to bully and make fun of the way I walk, talked, and behaved. Coming from a devout Christian household, where homosexuality was considered a sin, I grew up feeling shameful and guilty about my sexuality.
For 25 years, I suppressed all my sexual desires. This added to my insecurities and I felt that I was waging a lone battle. This feeling of protecting a deep, dark, dirty secret was compounded by the fact that I was close to my parents but was unable to tell them about my sexuality. Though I came out to my parents after a month of my first drag debut performance, they reacted first with anger and then became sad.
We kept fighting during this period.
I wasn’t happy about it and I often felt why this is happening to me. But, I was strong and confident in the decisions that I had taken so far. It also did not help that my parents were in Kerala and I am in Bangalore.
Coming out was a tough time because I lost a lot of friends, who just went incommunicado, and didn’t explain why they decided to stop being my friend.
To compound matters, I was unemployed and didn’t have a job. I lost friends because they didn’t understand this new me who is queer and out of the closet. I was around 26. I had my bouts of losing hope, feeling miserable and helpless. The only reason I was able to get through was finding inspiration from movies, videos, and books.
Eventually, I went on with my life. Friends come and go. True friends stick by you no matter what. I rather cherish those close friendships. With my parents, I gave them time and space. We fought for a year and we both realized that we were hurting each other. Since then they have come around and moved to Bangalore to stay with me.
My mother now helps pack my drag suitcase and tells me what looks work for me. At present, I focus on showing the truth by being true to oneself. I do performances, panel discussions, webinars, etc. to make people know more about my life.
I still remember how I had one of the worst performances in my life. It was because of the acoustics and it was out of control. I was sitting with my friends and chatting after it and I was approached by a boy. He said I love what you do. Please don’t ever stop. You are inspiring to me.
Since then, those words ring in my head. I will keep performing and creating content to inspire people to be themselves.