Written by Paulo Rouquayrol
My name is Paulo Davi Goodman Rouquayrol and I am a mixed-race, cis-gendered man from the US, born to a Brazilian immigrant father, and a southern-bred white mother. People often show vast confusion when I tell them that coming out was so difficult for me. “But you have two moms…”
After divorcing my father, my mother began to unveil a part of her identity as a queer woman. Having been so young, it never quite struck me that my mothers were queer. I just had two moms, and that was that. Queer discussions were never had in our household, and I grew up learning nothing about queer culture. I remember being extremely uncomfortable with my queerness and not knowing how to navigate this straight world. The “closet” for me felt more like a tomb.
It felt as if my moms never really understood me. Seemingly, we had nothing in common. There was always so much love, but I was the one boy in a sea of women, with my two moms and four older sisters. To my adolescent mind, coming out to them would make them extremely happy, thus proving that I wasn’t enough without a queer identity. On top of those uncomfortable feelings, I had a father whose worst nightmare was having a queer son. I remember him asking me every time he would visit whether I had indeed turned into his worst nightmare – gay.
I was later accidentally outed to my dad by a family member, and we have never discussed it since.
Pass or Fail
Did people know I was queer? I would venture to say it’s quite likely, but it wasn’t until I met my first love that coming out even crossed my mind. We were both closeted queer men and decided we would embark on this journey together. Slowly, we came out to our closest friends. As expected, it was a stressful and tear-filled experience, but with each conversation, we felt weights lifted in our hearts. At that point, however, I still didn’t feel attached to my identity.
- “I’m Queer And Proud To Be Who I Am”
- What Pride Month Means to Me
- The Black LGBTQI+ Experience in China
I have lived in China for seven years now, and in my first year here, I felt reborn. I met some of the best humans who accepted me into their crazy family, and I began to blossom. Figuring out my queer identity and where I fit in the queer world was no small feat, but the more I did, the more I felt like my authentic self. Without my experiences in Beijing, I truly think I would have never been able to find myself.
My alter ego, Miss Lola du Jour, is fairly well-known in Beijing. She was officially born in August 2018 in Beijing. For me, drag was originally a way to express my creativity and my love for entertaining crowds. That changed very quickly. At my first premier solo drag show, I had a young Chinese guy come up to me and excitedly ask for a picture. I, of course, obliged. As we were taking the picture, he thanked me for showing him that it is okay to be different. My heart melted, and I suddenly knew then that there was a higher purpose for my art. Drag, at its best, has the power to help and heal. Drag is a statement, and that statement can be powerful if used well.
I created Miss Lola du Jour in my mind at an early age after seeing a drag Cher impersonator going down the street in a scooter in P-town. I fell in love and knew I had to do it someday. My queer journey in China, has helped me find comfort in my identity, helped me allow that seed of desire planted so many years before take root and grow into a life-long dream actualized.
In this world, there are negative sides to everything. Drag is no exception, but I wholeheartedly believe the benefits outweigh many of the negatives. Under the right circumstance, drag can help lost queer humans. It is enjoyed by people of all identities, sexualities, and backgrounds, and thus holds the potential to bring people together. It is a big middle finger to societal norms. It is loud, bold, daring, and has no boxes or limits. My drag is my statement, and if I can help even a single person with my art, then I would say it is certainly worth it!
Photos: Courtesy of Paulo Rouquayrol
3 thoughts on “Beyond Drag: Finding My Queer Identity”