When I was younger, I found it hard to relate to women. Not in the sense that I was experiencing any confusion about my own gender, I just felt more inspired or moved by the males in this world. Everything I found interesting was because I saw a man do it first. The reason I wanted to become a dancer was Gene Kelly, Bob Fosse, Michael Jackson and Fred Astaire. My favourite musicians were all men, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and Conor Oberst, to name a few. And all the fashion icons, designers, comedians and general people I looked up to were men.
My mother has two distinct memories from when she was pregnant with me. One was her intense cravings for iceberg lettuce. The second was that she swears she could feel a boy forming inside her womb. She was wrong, but she always says that I had, and still have, a lot of ‘masculine energy’. I suppose she’s right? But I always thought of myself as a soft angelic flower. No? I would find myself idolising the idea of being a man because in my perspective, everything seemed to come easier. I would consistently find myself thinking, “Fuck! If I were a dude, I would totally be killing it right now!” But, at other times I would fantasise about being a tall woman with dark skin, a character who I named Esmerelda. So I pretty much just dreamed of being the antithesis of who I was, of being anyone except myself.
I will clarify though, I did look up to women, but they were the beautifully chaotic women of the world – glamorous drug addicts with short haircuts and stick-thin bodies. Everyone would adore them, look past their obvious problems and capture them as a character in a film or poster on the wall. Not the real them, but the idea of them. I suppose I was obsessed with these muses because the men who brought them to life were in my eyes the creative geniuses behind the glittery debris that stood in front of the world. If I couldn’t be a man, I wanted to be the creation of one.
The inner conflict of being a woman and not having any female icons to relate to or look up to for many years felt terrible. Throughout high school, during the first few years of leaving school and when I had moved to Sydney, I ‘acted like a boy’ who was embodied by a girl. I was crude, outspoken and honest like all the boys I surrounded myself with. No women I met were like that, so in some ways, I formed very powerful relationships with the ladies that I did find similarities with. This to a degree was like a relationship; speaking in traditional gender roles, I was the male, and they were the female. These feelings brought up a lot of insecurities and made me feel isolated and confused with who I was and what I was ‘supposed’ to be. I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t connect with the wonderful women that were around me.
But one day, that all changed. I had finished my performing arts course, had no agent, lots of passion and plenty of time to kill. So, with all that time I figured out how to download TV shows, and from the recommendation of my hairdresser, found RuPaul’s Drag Race. I binge watched the seasons back to back, got to know the characters, spoke about them in my normal day-to-day life and researched everything I could about drag queens. I had finally found my women. RuPaul’s Drag Race Drag features flamboyant men adorned in dresses, and I related to that so strongly. I was a woman who acted and often felt like a man and, they were men who often acted like women. Their sass, their struggle, their wit and their utter fabulousness screamed my name. I even, at times, found myself being jealous of these magical creatures as I thought they had the best of both worlds – some were the most beautiful women I have ever seen.
I was mesmerised by this world and wanted so much to be a part of it, but was struck by pangs of guilt as I am a straight white woman that hasn’t had sexual or racial hardships to overcome like the LGBTIQ people I so passionately adore and admire. These feelings left me wondering where do I fit in amongst this crowd? Then, as I watched the new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race which featured Lady Gaga (spoiler alert); she spoke about the same exact topic. She expressed how drag allowed her, as a straight woman, the chance to escape herself and be her own version of a drag queen. Once again that feeling of acceptance washed over me, and I didn’t feel alone anymore.
While watching her and the contestants express their thanks, love and respect for each other, I started crying. Maybe it’s because I was on my period, or maybe my new FODMAP diet has exhausted me to the point of tears. But more likely, it’s because I love seeing people understanding each other. I was moved by the vulnerability they shared with each other and I loved watching people realise that they aren’t alone. It showed me that there will always be someone out there that has similarly felt your feelings, thought your thoughts and struggled your struggle.
Finding your people is hard when you build up a wall and let the conventional rules of the rigid world get you down. All you have to do is work from the inside out and let your authentic being shine through! As RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love anybody else?”
He makes the most sense anybody has ever made to me and has completely changed my perspective of humans – and myself. Even if I still do look like an Eminem and Justin Bieber hybrid rather than a dazzling drag queen.