The Drag Closet
Chris Castro was never open about his sexuality or his femininity during his years in high school.
Castro’s attitude shifted drastically when he arrived at college at the Pennsylvania State University. He decided to embrace his feminine side, embrace his gay side and embrace his drag persona.
“I was still recently gay so I wasn’t that open with my sexuality, but then coming to college I was like ‘whatever I’m going to do me,’” Castro said.
“When I started out as a freshman all the drag queens had fun,” Castro said. “The energy was glowing.”
The fun atmosphere of drag at Penn State convinced him to start his drag career as a freshman.
One of only 10 drag queens that perform in the State College area, Castro spends about three hours perfecting a full face of makeup before a performance. Though starting out in drag he struggled with his makeup and dance moves, Castro said it never feels as if he was figuring out the craft completely on his own.
Castro explains that the small community makes it a very tight-knit one. The queens are always willing to help each other out, even on the competition nights.
“If a queen needs something, we’ll be there,” Castro said. “We’re all a little sisterhood.”
On performance nights, Castro dons an unnaturally colored wig- from neon purple to bright yellow to a frosty white. Whichever color he chooses that night, Castro transforms into Hexxa, his drag persona, when the wig goes on.
“Hexxa is this beautiful, sexy, dark witch…she always has to put the audience under a spell with her amazing performances,” Castro said. “And gets them to tip her all their money,” he added with a laugh.
Hexxa was born out of Castro’s obsession with “American Horror Story: Coven.” Castro was captivated by the witches’ power and beauty, so he decided to have his drag persona take on that role.
And the name “Hexxa” was just as inspired by the witches’ powers as her looks were.
“One day I thought ‘Hex,’ but let’s make it feminine, so ‘Hexxa,’” Castro said.
While to Castro drag means getting to express the wild, goofy side of his personality, that doesn’t mean it is all fun and games.
Besides the lengthy makeup process, there is also the struggle of dealing with stigmas around drag in today’s world.
“People always get messed up the difference between drag, and transvestite and transsexual,” Castro said. “They are all so many different things.”
The stigma is most apparent when discussing what he does with others. “They always assume ‘Oh, you want to be a girl? That’s weird.’"
Castro explains that he does not want to be a girl, he just enjoys dressing up as one to express his femininity as a gay male.
“Drag queens are regular, cisgender males or females that just want to play a character or put on a performance, and people don’t really understand that,” Castro said.
The largest source of stigma for Castro? His family. Castro explains that while his brother and a few cousins know about his drag hobby and are “completely cool” with it, he has yet to come out of the “drag closet” to his parents.
“Gender flipping is a weird topic for a lot of people still,” Castro said. “A lot of older people have a problem with it.”
Castro admits he has never tried to have a conversation with his parents about his love of drag.
“My mom was like ‘If you ever dress up as a girl I’ll be really mad. You can be gay…but don’t do that.’”
Drag is a topic of conversation that Castro isn’t yet ready to discuss with his parent, but says that one day he will tell them.
“I’ll be able to publicize my drag more once I’m open to my family about it,” Castro said.
Castro, unfazed by his parents’ and others’ opinions, said drag is too important to let anything get in his way of fully embracing the craft.