“One bucket list goal or dream I would like to fulfil and achieve is to Build a school for children where they are free to pursue any kind of arts. Be it music, theatre, writing, painting and even drag!!”
The LGBTQ Community for years has been long-standing victims of social and cultural prejudice. They are constantly subjected to prejudice and discrimination rooted in and formed on the basis of traditional and conventional beliefs and misconceptions surrounding gender and sexuality. Becoming victims of homophobia(the fear or hatred of homosexuality), they experience harassment and the threat of violence and discrimination on all fronts, be it physical, social, cultural, political, or economic.
They are termed as deviants or ‘malfunctioned’ rejects because of their preference for sexual orientation and identity and are pushed to the extreme margins of society with no promise of respect for human life or dignity.
Amongst all this, exist people who rise to the occasion and make use of all platforms available to garner support and awareness for the LGBTQ community and give a voice to the otherwise voiceless. Alex Mathew also was known by many as Maya the Drag Queen is one such individual who has been using his social media following and platform to empower online audiences, revolutionize conventional order and challenge the concept of societal labels.
# For People Who Don’t Know Much about You, Tell Us a Bit about Yourself and What You Do.
“I am an open and proud queer cisgender man, and I perform as a drag queen known as Mayamma/Maya, the Drag Queen. I started to perform as one since Sept 2014. On the side, I do artist management. I am based out of Bangalore, India.”
(source: @mayathedragqueen )
Through her drag character of Mayamma, Alex aims to express the importance of gender equality, feminism, and individual role and responsibility and speaks volumes of the discrimination and injustice women and the LGBT community often face when looked upon as ‘weak’ by their violent and oppressive counterparts. Through the use of drag, Alex has continuously worked to transform and revolutionize misconceptions regarding theatre and art in mainstream Indian culture.
# If You Wanted to Be a Movie Character for One day, Which Movie Would You Like to Be Cast In?
When asked who he would like to switch places with for a day if given a choice, Alex spoke about Bianca Del Rio. Bianca, famous for winning the sixth season of the reality show – RuPaul’s Drag Race, is acknowledged and loved by many for her eccentric, over-the-top, straight-forward, and ‘crackpot’ attitude.
“If I could be a movie character for a day, I would choose Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act. I would love to play the part of Deloris Van Cartier.”
# How Has the Lockdown Been for You?
“Yes. It has. We were so tuned to performing on stage. Right, we are restricted in four walls, and that isn’t good for drag queens and drag kings who have larger than life personalities. But, we have to do what we have to do to move forward. Mostly, we do online drag shows.”
Following the increasing spread of Coronavirus in various countries around the world, the World Health Organisation declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic on 11th March 2020. To control the spread of the virus, countries went into lockdown mode, thereby stopping all activities of social interaction and means of transport, trade, and travel in the country. Business establishments, restaurants, shops, schools, colleges, and public places were all shut down. With the pandemic influencing the global trade and market, People lost their jobs and the primary source of employment and income. According to estimates by the International Labor Organization, around 25 million jobs faced a threat due to the global pandemic.
“When the lockdown was announced, I thought my life had ended. I was wallowing in my misery. HAHAHAH! However, a US-based drag queen named Summer Camp helped me get my first gig by saying Online Drag Story hour. So, I just moved forward with doing things I love.”
# One Role Model You Owe a Majority of Your Success To?
It is our role models that influence what we do and determine who we eventually turn out to be. They are the voices in our head that continually pushes us to strive for more and uncover our true potential. They determine what we believe in and what we fight for. They encourage us to be the best possible version of ourselves and also provide the courage and motivation to take risks and challenges as well as the openness to learn from our mistakes.
“I can’t say one as such. But I owe it to the mothers in my Life. My mother, who gave birth to me, taught me to be strong and live life head-on. While the other two mothers are LaWhore Vagistan and Mr. Keshav Suri, who gave me opportunities and wise advice when no one was ready to do so.”
When asked about the inspiration behind becoming a drag queen, Alex answered that it was the character and Life of Robin Williams and Kamal Hassan that inspired him to become a drag queen and later on a champion of social change.
“After watching movies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Chachi 420, I was like if they can do drag, I can do too!”
When it comes to the use of Drag, Alex is also known for being completely raw, authentic, straight-forward and genuine in the expression of her character, Mayamma and belives that it such an attitude that enables her to shed light on the topic of gender inequality and feminism in its most real and original setting.
“If someone wants to write an autobiography about me, I would want to title it – An UnApologetic Indian Drag Queen.”
[To Know More: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkCz5Y1jrqQ ]
# Major Misconceptions Regarding the Drag Community :
Following the Netherlands in 2001, same-sex marriage has now been legalized in over 29 countries around the world. Guided by superstition and unawareness, the LGBT community remain victims of misconception and discrimination in terms of political, socio-economic, physical, and cultural spheres. Homophobia continues to remain an issue even in the present modern-day context.
(source: @mayathedragqueen )
“A major misconception is that we are sexually starved, and we are rude. I have met the most amazing human beings in the drag community.”
The ‘absurd’ and ‘eccentric’ behavior and manner of speaking, create a prejudice among many. With misconceptions such as how drag is all about glamor and money, mainstream society ends up trivializing the drag community and taking away attention from what it means and signifies.
# Advice to Parents and Younger Self
The relationship between a child and parents requires a sense of mutual respect and admiration on both sides. When a child feels that his/her opinions and views are respected, he/she feels more confident in being expressive in the external and outside setting as well. Listening with an open mind will enable the child to be a more effective communicator, as well as will enable him/her to express his feelings more authentically and genuinely. Taking the time to listen also makes sure that the child does not feel alone.
“Listen to your children. Understand what they are going through. We all live in a society where we have conditioned towards the western concept of gender constructs. Be open-minded and have a conversation with them related to gender and sexuality. It’s important.”
It is not the destination but the journey that matters the most. Enjoy Life in all its stride. Be willing to learn new things as well as make new mistakes. Indulge in imagination and listen to that inner voice. Figure out what makes you happy and fight for it.
“An advice to my younger one would be that Life is a rollercoaster ride. Brace yourself. Always remember to listen to that inner voice in you. They will guide you in the right direction. Never listen to anyone what they say about you. Only believe in yourself. That’s all it matters. It all starts with a dream. If you focus on it, you will achieve it. YOUR IDENTITY IS UPON YOU TO DEFINE“
~ Take Responsibility for your happiness; never put it in other people’s hands.
– Roy Bennett ~