In elementary school, I was a shy, girly boy. I preferred arts and crafts with the girls to soccer with the boys. At home, I played alone with my sisters’ dolls.
When my mom wasn’t home, I’d hide in her room and blast Britney Spears. I’d doll up in her flowered hats and high heels, and put on a show. I was always happiest in my own little pop dream—jumping on the bed and spinning in circles to the music.
I was raised in a strict Mexican family. So I was careful not to flail my wrists or speak too softly—for fear of being told to speak up and act like a man. I dreamed of being a performer, but I believed my glittery fantasies were wrong. I kept my passions hidden in the closet, held back by my lack of confidence and internalized homophobia.
When I was 15, I discovered RuPaul’s Drag Race. A firework went off in me. I was drawn in by the queens’ personalities: so confident, so free, living out their high-heeled truths. Many of them grew up like me. They were weird kids who imitated pop divas. In them, I saw what I could be. That my dress-up games could turn into art.
But you don’t wake up a full-fledged drag queen. It takes practice, patience, and energy. When I’m not at work, I’m planning looks, practicing makeup, or learning dance routines.
My family’s reaction has been better than I expected. My sisters love my outfits. My mom is supportive. She thinks I look like her when I’m in drag. My dad and I haven’t had a conversation about it yet.
When I get ready to go out, I draw on feminine features and push away self-doubt.
I think about the little boy who was scared to be girly. I never thought I’d be dancing in a nightclub, unapologetically being myself. But I am, and I love every second of it.
These famous TV drag queens helped me find the confidence to let my inner queen out. Her name is Poison Oakland, and she’s still me, but fiercer.
Follow Poison on Instagram @poison.oakland.