THE BLOG

Just A Drag Queen With No Arms

29/09/2017 14:41

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everybody

I can't recall when I first became aware of my disability. I have Thrombocytopenia Absent Radius which means I have no forearm bones and also a blood disorder. I have vivid memories of being in hospital for platelet infusions from a young age but not seeing it as unusual. I can remember having a very naïve idea of how my arms were just growing slowly, but that obviously wasn't the case.

As I grew up I was never really insecure about my arms. I decided that I must have been given this body for a reason; that I was strong enough to cope. Even when kids made fun of me, I was still happy with how I am.

Whilst in university I thought I had life figured out. I'd be a graphic designer and focus on that. I didn't have many friends and I'd never been in a relationship, so I would concentrate on being successful.

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After I had graduated I started going on nights out with my best friend, who was pretty much my only friend at that point. We'd go to the gay scene where I first met the queens who eventually became my family.

It wasn't long before they took me under their wing and I eventually decided I wanted to do drag as well. With their help and support I chose the name Venus Dimilo after the statue with no arms and started the occasional promotion shift handing out flyers. The fact that I wanted to drag queen rather than king wasn't an issue with most people, but I still appreciated they took what I was doing seriously.

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Like most queens I was terrible at doing makeup and the thought of performing terrified me. As I'd gotten older I had become a lot less confident and thought if people saw me dancing or performing I'd be judged or mocked. However the alternative drag queens started a monthly night, Shade, which I was included in and once I saw them perform I eventually wanted to as well. My first performance was Freddy Krueger themed and once it was over I knew it wouldn't be my last time on stage.

Since my first performance I went on to do a few gigs and enter Drag Idol; a local competition. Even though I didn't go all the way to the end I realised people appreciated what I did, that they weren't actually laughing at me but respected how I embraced my arms.

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In 2015 I was approached by two film students who wanted to make a documentary about my drag. It went on to win awards at multiple Queer film festivals. Since then I have travelled to Colorado, Bristol and toured with Klub Kids around the country. It always amazes me when people say they follow my drag or are inspired by what I do. I still get strangers asking if my arms are real, if I do my makeup myself (which I do) or if I have been effected by Thalidomide but drag has taught me how to talk about it in a humorous way as a lot of people seem to feel bad about asking questions. That is what I want though, I want people to ask and learn. It's the only way disabled people can be treat normally, through awareness.

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I'm not going to lie and say life is easy - as it's not. I've taught myself how to do everything in my own way, and I'm still learning. I get frustrated when I can't do something or when I need to ask for help. But I will say that I am proud to be how I am and this is the reason I have this body; to educate, inspire and grow. A lot of people think having a disability is worthy of sympathy but I'm so lucky to be how I am. Drag gave me my confidence, my friends and my life. But it also lets me spread the knowledge that disabilities are not a bad thing, and that you should embrace and own everything about you.

You can follow Venus Dimilo on Facebook here.

HuffPost UK Lifestyle has launched EveryBody, a new section calling for better equality and inclusivity for people living with disability and invisible illness. The aim is to empower those whose voices are not always heard and redefine attitudes to identity, lifestyle and ability in 2017. We'll be covering all manner of lifestyle topics - from health and fitness to dating, sex and relationships.

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