By CODY MCGEHEE, Ranger Reporter:
Amarillo College student “Parris” is a senior education major and a drag queen. Every Saturday, she applies make-up, slips into a sparkly skin-tight dress and lip-syncs popular songs onstage at The 212 Club in downtown Amarillo.
Crowds gather every weekend to watch Parris perform. Parris describes performing in drag as “a calling,” but she notes that her weekend work has the potential to get in the way of her educational career.
“It’s hard to separate your personal life, school life and drag life,” said Parris. “You have to be careful who knows what.”
Parris said she worries that people will judge her unfairly if they learn about her performances. “I am currently in college to become an elementary teacher and if people misunderstand who I am, and why I do what I do, it could affect my future.”
Parris said she hates knowing she might jeopardize her chance to reach her goal of becoming a teacher just because she dresses in women’s clothing and lip syncs to well known songs.
Parris noted that people have many misconceptions about drag performers. “I identify as a girl but there are a lot of straight men who perform in drag shows. A drag queen does what she does for entertainment,” Parris said. Unlike some drag queens, however, Parris is transgender.
“I knew something was different about me in middle school. I wasn’t sure what exactly it was, but I could feel it,” said Parris.
“When I started high school, I dated girls and was crowned prom king. Then I began identifying as a girl and started to experiment with wearing makeup, but, because I was popular, not many people messed with me for being different. I was lucky,” she said.
Knowing that some transgender people undergo bullying and humiliation for being different, Parris said she makes an effort to confront misunderstandings. She answers questions on Facebook about her gender identity and her performances and tackles difficult issues on Facebook Live before she goes on stage.
Read more about Parris in the AC Current on newsstands this December.