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Identity Interview Masculinity

“My Preconceived Notion Of What It Meant To Be A Drag Queen Didn’t Fit How I Wanted To Be Seen As A Man”

We interviewed drag queen and makeup artist Matthew Joseph

DtL: What do you love most about your job?

Matthew: I believe retaining authenticity in everything you do is extremely important. You have to love what you do, and in order to love it, you have to be able to express yourself through it in some way.

I’ve discovered that in the work that I do as a drag queen and makeup artist. I’ve grown so much, and I know I will continue to evolve. I look to other amazing artists for inspiration and it feeds me. It feeds my desire to be better, to be more polished, more creative, and more fierce. I get to experience a realm inside of myself and share that with the world. In my case, that realm is the feminine and the exaggeration of beauty and power. There is no limit to the evolution. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

“The exploration has allowed me to unapologetically discover myself as an artist and discover who I am as a man”

 

DtL: Does your job give you a platform to express your individuality? Why is this important?

Matthew: In all honesty, being a drag queen was not something I would have ever considered doing up until a couple of years ago. However, the opportunity has come into my life and by me embracing it and putting aside what I thought people would think about me, I have been able to express myself in ways that I was too afraid to in the past. The exploration has allowed me to unapologetically discover myself as an artist and discover who I am as a man with a strong affinity and connection with the feminine, and celebrate that. The people in my life now relate to me through this work and then they become inspired to be part of it. A bond is created. Collaboration happens. That is magic and it’s a fabulous gift to be able to put your name to that.

“Putting aside what people think about me, I have been able to express myself in ways that I was too afraid to in the past”

 

DtL: Have you ever experienced judgement because of attitudes towards your chosen career? If yes, what happened and how do you think we can combat such attitudes?

Matthew: Before I started doing drag, I had an aversion to it because my preconceived notion of what it ‘meant’ to be a drag queen didn’t fit how I wanted to be seen as a man. I was convinced that people  – especially my friends and family – would think I was completely insane and there was no way any partner that I wanted to be with would find me attractive.

The reality is that my parents had to deal with it a bit but I don’t shy away from sharing my work or my adventures with them. That has helped make it more normal for them, plus they see the impact of what I create and they really appreciate it.

My relationships with people are so much more authentic because through this, I have learnt to be comfortable with myself and that means there is little to hide or be ashamed of. It leaves people a bit in awe to stand in the presence of someone like that and in most cases they are really drawn to it and receptive.

Some people may not ‘get it’ and that’s fine. In the end all you can do is live your life with conviction and passion. Don’t ever sacrifice that. Agree to disagree if you have to but leave space for growth and understanding – that bridges the gap and creates the mutual respect.

“Before I started doing drag, I had an aversion to it because my preconceived notion of what it meant to be a drag queen didn’t fit how I wanted to be seen as a man”

 

DtL: Do you think the idea of what it means to ‘be a man’ has changed over time? If so how, and what do you think it means to be a man in 2016?

Matthew: I think the idea of what it means to be human has changed. Generations before us did what they thought they ‘should’ do and have lived unfulfilled lives because they were taught ‘this is how a man/woman is/behaves’. Over the years and now especially, there has been a shift in consciousness and people are exposed to more information and points of view – that in itself sparks an important and intriguing conversation.

In terms of what it means to be a man, I think the comfort of masculinity is still very much present for a lot of men. Men get very uncomfortable when they’re not the aggressor or if something is being put in their face. The objectification of man that has been happening in the last couple of decades is a great thing in my opinion because it levels that playing field a bit. It confronts that threatened masculine identity and weakens it. Vulnerability is a blatant confrontation of that identity and it allows space for a deep relatedness to oneself and others which I believe men are really wanting and yearning for. That is the work that I am creating with men in my project The Femme Effect.

DtL: What advice would you give to young boys wanting to get into the industry today?

Matthew: My advice to anyone who had an interest in pursuing their dreams would be to do it and do it right now. Take an immediate action on something that you love, whether it be getting into communication with someone, buying your first makeup kit, starting a blog, whatever. If you have an idea, share it with someone. Some will support you fully and some won’t and that’s just how it is. Just don’t ever allow someone else’s identity or experience of life diminish your own. There is an entire world of possibility and people who want to support each other. Don’t hold back and don’t ever stop pushing for what you want.

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