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Mayamma The Indian Drag Queen

‘Drag’, does the word ring a bell? You must have seen videos of drag artists and might even have seen drag queens’ performances on social media platforms. But what is it really? Drag is one of the most underrated art forms and is not embraced in several nations even today including India. In simple terms, drag means wearing clothes characteristically of the opposite sex and performing. Like every other art form, it requires enthusiasm, passion, and utmost hard work. Alex Mathew exhibited all three skills and became India’s most popular drag performer at the age of 28 years.

Alex Mathew hails from South India and initially wanted to become a Broadway performer. He practiced theater and sang karaoke at bars but he was still never satisfied with it. He felt a creative outlet was missing in his performances and that’s when the mother of illusion, ‘Mayamma’, his drag character was born. Alex was heavily inspired by Robin Williams, but his journey wasn’t as smooth as he anticipated it to be. Mayamma was mocked as a crossdresser (hijra) and his sexuality was often questioned. But none of it could put Mayamma down. Alex proudly admits that drag helped him clutch onto his true identity.

Alex now runs a web show ‘Chaiya with Maya’ where he talks about his Broadway dream and many other crucial matters like gender equality, exploring one’s all aspects of personality, and individualism all in a witty style. Alex is the epitome of following one’s passion regardless of what others have to say about it. He has broken several stereotypes and established that drag is an art form and there is nothing erroneous in either enjoying it or performing it. 

 

Alex is the Indian Drag queen chasing his dream and inspiring many others!

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The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

The art that was once unsavory for being too ‘prudish’ is now being celebrated because of two men, Charles W. Leslie and Fritz Lohman. Who not only gave recognition to homoerotic art but also successfully established the first-ever gay art museum. ‘The Leslie-Lohman museum of gay and lesbian art’ is located at one of the finest places in New York City, SOHO, Manhattan.

Leslie and Lohman were life partners who gathered gay art for several years and then showcased it for the first time ever in 1969 in their loft at Prince Street. The overwhelming response from the audience towards this ‘unambiguously gay’ art propelled them to open a commercial art gallery in the 1980s in SOHO. But during the early 1980s, they had to focus on safeguarding the art instead of fostering it in the advent of the AIDS pandemic which was thrashing the gay art community.

Love is too beautiful to be hidden in the closet and so is art. And Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is giving a space to both.

As the masses were still lacking awareness about the differing sexualities, they were neither acknowledging the gay art nor the sexuality of the artists. Leslie & Lohman now needed an oasis for this art which then drove the couple to establish a non-profit foundation to support gay art in 1987. In 2011, this NGO was awarded the status of ‘official museum’ by the New York State Board of Regents making it the first accredited gay art museum in the world.

The museum consists of paintings, photographs, drawings, and sculptures. It features the work of 1,900+ artists and has an active archive of 24,000 art pieces. Over the years the museum had strictly adhered to its theme and had helped people explore their sexualities, feel heard and valued, and also gave the queer community a sense of inclusiveness.

The Leslie-Lohman art museum is a story of romance that preserved 50 years of LGBTQ art, which would have otherwise vanished!