From Disney to drag

“When he was 6, I was with his father in the living-room when George (Alexander) made an entrance I will never forget”, remembers Ioana, Alexander’s mother. “He was wearing a long T-shirt, a pair of over-the-knee socks, some shoes of mine and a headscarf that gave you the impression he had long hair. He was moving and looking exactly like a woman. We got goose bumps. His father yelled at him and told him to never dress like that again. That evening, after the initial shock wore off, the child touched his arm, from his palm to the elbow, and told me ‘Mommy, under this skin, I am a little girl’.”

Alexander is a 19-year-old young boy, a member of the LGBT community and one of the best known and loved drag artists (men dressed in women’s clothes for performances).

There are not many topics to divide the society as much as those related to the LGBT community do. Unlike the LGBT community, the other controversial topics do not usually have to face the ‘wrath of God’ like the poor Sodoma and Gomora did.
It is difficult for most people to listen to the arguments of this community when they know they risk being burnt alive by the Divine fire.

In addition to the Divine argument, those who have something against the LGBT community, call forth almost as often the argument of ‘procreation’.
For almost two thousand years, the Church is selling the idea of sex and procreation only within the context of marriage. Given that the institution of marriage is fading away (in terms of wish as well as divorce rate) one could say that the Church, through its ancient dogma, is endangering natality more than the LGBT community.
Even though marriage means that what God brought together no man should tear apart, increasingly more marriages end up in divorce. We do not see the Church asking for a referendum to ban divorce (even though it does have the positive example on its side). We see it, however, wasting itself in a negative fight, against the people, its members.

“He suffered a lot”, says Ioana, Alexander’s mother. “At school, with his group of friends. When we realized he was different, we understood we had to learn to make him happy with what he wants, not what we want. This is how we started replacing cars and trains with dolls as gifts.
He first saw a Snow-White kit. Being together with the dwarfs, the prince and the little house, we did not get alarmed and decided to buy it. For the moment, the very Snow-White was missing from the stock so, the following day, when he opened the present, he was happy but immediately asked where the main character was. When the store was restocked, we bought Snow-White as well. I will never forget the joy in his eyes when he got it. He was also playing with the dwarfs and the prince, but he gradually abandoned them.”

Alexander liked to draw. Ioana is keeping to this day a file full with his creations where no Disney princess is missing. Princes are rare in these drawings as well, and when they do appear, you feel like they are more of an accessory of the much-beloved princesses.

Alexander has never accepted being afraid, hiding away. His parents tried to explain him that if he would take the dolls to play outside, he would surely be teased. Given that he didn’t give up, they had to go with him and watch him from the distance.

In secondary school Alexander was closer to girls than boys. They had the same interests, spoke the same language and, often, in their games, Alexander would be better than all of them in impersonating various princesses.

“On his birthday, in order to avoid unpleasant questions and embarrassing situations, we made the decision to take all the dolls out of his room and replace them with cars. After the party which went great, we gathered everything again and brought back the little princesses”, remembers Ioana.

Ioana found it difficult as a mother to answer questions such as “What will you do if this one takes the same path?”

Tudor, his younger brother, is the opposite. Athletic, muscled, interested in everything that is more manly, as though to compensate for Alexander’s femininity.

It’s touching to see how Alexander accompanies Tudor to the store to buy weights and how Tudor comes out with Alexander to take him pictures.

Alexander’s closeness to girls would later become a cover meant to shield him from the attacks of his colleagues who started calling him ‘gay’. At the parents’ meeting, Ioana would tell the other parents: “How could George be gay, can’t you see how girls surround him?”.

Alexander really wanted to see Lady Gaga. When he was 14, together with his cousin, he travelled to Wien to a concert. On the way, he summoned the courage to tell her how he was being attacked by colleagues and called gay. His cousin, looking at him with love and reassuring him that everybody would love him regardless of his preferences, asked him how he felt. After some moments of silence, he said for the first time the words that few have the courage to say in front of people outside of the community: ‘I am gay’.

The Holy Grail, the long-cherished dream of the members of the gay community is the spotlight. The impossibility to recognize their status for most of them and the feeling of injustice towards the positive energy that a hetero couple is surrounded by, make the LGBT members see the freedom to assert themselves as the most precious gift.
This is why when they are making a joke on somebody else or even lie, they usually say that they are ‘throwing shade’.

Alexander was 14 at the time. That moment of asserting his sexual identity would soon be shadowed by a terrible event that would mark his entire adolescence.
Curios about couple relationships within the gay community, Alexander found out about Grinder, an online dating application, for gay people especially.
That is how he got to talk with an individual who lured him to his place under the pretext of a night of “relaxation and Netflix”.
The individual proposed alcoholic beverages on several occasions, but Alexander refused, remembering his mother’s advice. Eventually, at the proposal of a hot chocolate, he gave in. The teenager could not have known that he would be drugged and then raped.
Immediately after drinking the hot chocolate, Alexander felt dizzy, tired, incapable to speak.
When he woke up, it was only in the bus that he thought something terrible had happened, because he could not sit on the chair because of the pain.

There followed a horrible time. He lost interest in school, he became irritable, he always had the feeling of being followed. Ioana says about Alexander during that time that he was like a hunted animal. They could see he was going through a difficult time but nobody could have imagined what had truly happened.

In his attempt to forget, to escape his past, to get away because he always had the feeling of being followed, Alexander started painting his hair in different colors almost after every bath.

That’s when Alexander first got the idea of becoming a drag artist.

After high-school, Alexander did no longer want to continue his studies. He threw himself into the artistic work in a fashion design store and, of course, into drag performances.

The effort made and the joy felt when turning into the princesses of his childhood would soon bring him many satisfactions. Not even 20 and Alexander is a talented entertainer, a guest in various performances and TV shows.

During the time I met him, I don’t know whether Alexander had an intimate partner.

“He once came home with a boy”, remembers Ioana. “He brought a flower. I remember how shy and timid he was. He couldn’t believe how open Alexander’s relationship with me was. At a certain point, Alexander’s father came home and asked him as a joke whether he knew the joke with the stud that raped teenagers. His smile disappeared at once and, however much I tried to comfort him, I could no longer bring him back to the state of tranquility he had before”.

Gay teenagers need only a small unrest to feel invaded by the flow of all negative feelings and uncertainties they feel in their own families, as well as the society.

“When they walked out the door, the young man turned to me and told me: “don’t worry, I’ll bring him home”. I had never talked with Alexander about the intimacies of his relationships. I wondered then “If he brings him home, does that mean that Alexander is a girl?”

There were also violent relationships that Alexander is fortunate to have gotten out from okay.

Alcoholism, violence, loneliness are some of the harsh realities of the communities that dreamer Alexander need to adjust to. Unfortunately, in his case, the chances to be rescued by a prince on a white horse, are much smaller than in the case of his much-beloved Disney princesses.

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