And this is David.
David who is 30, who is a man, who is gay, who is cisgender, no specific order, just a queen, your queen.
David grew up in Wellington, a small city outside of Cape Town. There, he had a very religious upbringing, for several of his forefathers served as pastors of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
David grew up feeling different from the other boys. He’d rather play with girls. He’d act more feminine, perhaps effeminate. He was an active church member: sunday school, Christmas plays, kids choir. Something along the lines of creativity and active involvement. Something that other boys would consider girly.
As many queer kids concerned with what people can think or may say, David grew a second brain. He would not let people, family, see how creative he was, although he really was. He would not let them see how attracted he was to other boys, although he really was.
And as many queer kids who grow a second brain, David grew a double life.
One foot in the open, convenient picture of a quiet law student.
One foot in the closet, resilient mixture of a caged love and a cloaked flamboyance.
During his third year of university, a friend of his introduced him to the world of drag pageantry. David gave it a try. He took the stage, once, twice, pageant after pageant, created this whole drag persona: Camille Von Zuush. People loved him, idolised her. Camille as David, David as Camille, felt free for the first time.
So by the time David finished his studies, became a qualified lawyer, his closet was full. Filled with nails, wigs, dresses and high heels. Filled with a whole drag twin. Filled with 20 years of secrecy. Filled with a procrastinated fallacy.
And at that time, the ballroom and drag culture was getting a bigger exposure in Cape Town and the Western Cape. Perhaps due to the influence of America and its RuPaul’s Drag Race, there was a growing interest around a culture that used to live in the dark.
This is why David decided one day to disclose Camille Von Zush to the public eye. And he did it big time. He appeared in a documentary about drag queens’ double life. And that was it. To his family, to everybody, David’s closet was wide open. Finally.
Now that he’s free to show whoever he wants to be, David’s double life is twice as merry.
He refers to Camille Von Zuush as a different person of his. Camille is poised and more refined. She’s a lady. David is the man you will find at work or in church. Joyful and quirky.
However, David and Camille are one person. Camille is there, out there. David is here, right here. The nails, the hair, they make the link you see.
Today, both David and Camille serve a purpose.
David is committed to his job. He still goes to church. As a matter of fact, he’s never stopped going. Through difficult times, despite how problematic people might think his religion can be, God has always been here for him. And because church is a prime place for David to find Him, because church people have a hard time telling he from a she; in church, Camille does not belong and doesn’t need to be.
On her side, Camille has become a role model. Miss Body Beautiful 2014. Miss Gay Western Cape 2015. Miss Gay South Africa finalist 2017. Here and there inspiring people in her communities: Coloured, queer, drag wannabes. Camille Von Zuush is real and queen of the party.
Here, dear reader, you surely figured how and why the word ‘queen’ matters more than ever, and has mattered lately. Little boys and young men, once shamed and shunned for their femininity, today find a figure that they can look up to.
Had he not found Camille, David wouldn’t be half of the bold and confident being he is now.
Had the LGBTI community not found its queens - strong female figures, transgender mothers, cross-dressing performers, cisgender pop idols - there would be no sass, no snap, no tea to spill on that hardly questioned, well of the the oppression, masculinity.
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