By Summer Seasons, Special for PQ Monthly
Coming out as gay in my house was relatively painless. My parents just sat me down one day and said “We know you’re gay, and that’s okay.” I was confused at 16, but they enrolled themselves in counseling at PFLAG, and sent me to go see a gay counselor as well. Soon everybody in the house was OK with it, and we just went about business as normal. Until I started doing drag.
Originally I didn’t really have the desire to be a drag queen, I wanted to design and make clothes for them. Sneaking out of the house one night I found myself at the City Nightclub — boy, was I in heaven. Lady O hit the stage. She was stunning, and I was enamored. A few weeks later I ran into her, and she was nice, but when I asked if I could sew for her, she laid that idea to the wayside, because she didn’t know me, and I’d never really designed before. Much was the case with every other drag queen along the way. So I decided if they wouldn’t wear them, I’d do it myself.
A few coworkers helped me gather the things I needed, and I was all set to make my big debut. Even back then I thought my family wouldn’t be OK with it, so I’d only do it when I was staying at a friend’s house, or when I’d have time to change before I got home. I’d always hide everything, and never told anyone. I’m pretty sure my mom found out though, I often “borrowed” things from her, and would leave them in different places, and many a time I’d go to my room and find that everything had been thrown away. I never let that stop me and I went about building my name for myself.
I got pretty good at doing drag, and found myself working at the Embers Avenue. I told my family I was working as a cocktail server, because I was ashamed of what they would think of me. Thankfully by then I lived on my own and was able to start building the mass of things that drag requires. I started reaching out to family friends and some relatives, but I always had this big secret looming over me.
I found myself ready to run for a title, and I submitted my application to run for Miss Gay Portland the first time and boy was I ready. I handed out flyers to everyone I knew andstarted inviting everyone. One day a family friend asked me if my mother was coming and I said no way! She then sat me down and encouraged me to tell my mom and see if she’d come and support. My mom did in a very big way and brought some other friends and family, but was concerned by the fact that I was dressed like a whore. I lost that day and she was pretty comforting, but there still wasn’t much talk about it.
I was determined to get involved in charity so I ran for the title of Debutante instead. I remember my mom and me driving on the freeway; we were discussing drag and she asked, “Son, are you planning on becoming a woman?” I was taken aback by this because that’d never occurred to me, although I did have a transgender best friend. I always looked at drag as a character, never as my life. I told her this and the reasons why I did it. For some reason that time it clicked with her and she said, “OK, well if this is going to be your thing, I can’t have you dressed terribly, let’s go shopping!” and we did, and I remember coming home just being baffled that I was finally accepted.
My brother was a completely different story, he has always pretty much known about “Summer Seasons” since her inception. Most of the time he didn’t really care about it, until he discovered how fabulous I was and he has now become my biggest fan! He’s been there every step of the way, and helped build me up to everyone he knows.
My father was the last step to conquer. When I won Debutante, my White Knight and I needed someone to drive us in the parade. I’d called my brother and he said, “No, call dad.” My mom said the same thing, and so in my desperation I called him. He said, “Son, I’ve been waiting for this call, and if this is what you’re going to do, the whole family and I are going to ride with you; I will drive you with pride.” And he did. From that day forward I had their complete acceptance.
My sister came in later, but she always has respected me and for that I am grateful. My mother has been to every step up and step down I’ve ever had, and my father has driven me in the parade three times and watched me host it just as many, They now come as a family and watch me perform at Darcelle XV Showplace, and I couldn’t be prouder. This year my grandmother and great aunt came, and fought over who got to take pictures first.
I was always afraid of what the family would think that I never gave them the chance to accept me. When I opened up my eyes to allow them to know me, they did, and it’s been great ever since. I’m no longer afraid to take those chances, for I know I live a very blessed life, with a family who’s got my back always! The dating world, however, is a different story for next time.