A young, queer artist being out and proud online was something you rarely see, especially in a country that defines gender roles quite strictly. Siaan explores gender, personal and social content as well as swiping on her profile, with a whopping 16.7k followers on Instagram.
In a conversation with FII, Mx. Siaan talks about being queer, queer representation and navigating online and offline spaces as an LGBTQI member.
FII: Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about who you are?
damn it: My name is Siaan and my name is also Mx. Stallion. I am an artist, content creator and drag king. I really enjoy performing and acting and hope to explore more art forms. I am non-binary and use the pronouns he/they.
FII: What made you want to have an online presence and become a content creator?
damn it: I started creating content a few years ago during the lockdown when TikTok was still around. Then I moved to other platforms and social media. The internet was actually how I came out.
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FII: What is it like to be queer on the internet, especially on social media? Is there any way to reach out to queerphobic/transphobic people to change their opinions and views?
damn it: The queer community online is extremely supportive, especially when I wasn’t surrounded by support systems around me in real life. My best friend is from Bhutan, I never had the chance to meet them but they are still a huge part of my life.
In my experience, I have not seen people willing to change their minds very quickly. It is very difficult to even create change within the queer community, let alone outside of it. Problems like incorrect gender and dead name are still widespread and a lot of patience is needed with unreasonable people.
FII: Besides being a content creator, you are also a drag king and performer. Could you tell us a little bit about what resistance is and what it means?
damn it: I can’t give you a proper definition, but to me a drag is a masculine person who dresses femininely or otherwise. It is an artistic tradition that magnifies who a person is, and when you look at it, you always feel amazing. Drag began within the queer black community in the US. It’s not just in the club culture, but in the roots of the trans community.
Drag king culture has grown a lot since I started doing drag. I only knew two kings in India when I started, but now it’s a big thing. It was nice to see this trip and the increased representation of drag kings in the city. Drag queens are definitely more common than Kings. I think this is partly due to family pressures being stronger on AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth) people, so many of them can’t express themselves freely and be themselves.
Queer representation still has a long way to go, but I’m excited to see how it goes!
FII: What is your background in performing drag?
damn it: I have performed in Bombay, Pune, Bangalore and online for over a year. I have performed with The gay gazewith Mumbai Urban Art Festival at Sassoon Docks, Social, in clubs and many other events. The drag scene has evolved a lot since I started and so have I. I am really glad to have met so many drag artists from all over the world through social media and the internet.
At the same time, I am a versatile person and am interested in many more forms of art and expression. I’m also currently into acting and editing and I’m looking forward to seeing what I do in the future.
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FII: How do you feel about queer representation in the media? How did it affect you growing up?
damn it: I didn’t see any representation of the queer community in the media as a child. I just knew I was attracted to women, like song actresses in old 90s movies. Yet growing up as a woman, I didn’t know I was non-binary. I was trying to conform to heterosexual norms and be attracted to boys.
The representation is better these days, greater in number and in quality. But it’s still problematic, like with men playing trans women on screen. I understand that filmmakers have different incentives, such as the need to have famous actors to attract views, but the presentation could become more authentic. Queer people making queer films and being in the room where it happens would definitely make some of these images more authentic. It’s not that heterosexual people can’t write stories about the queer community, it’s that they have to empathize with the community they’re trying to represent. This empathy can only come from having someone from the community with them during the production process.
FII: What are some of your personal achievements and challenges in life?
damn it: Doing drag is definitely one of life’s greatest achievements. My first drag show was online. It felt like all my years of being part of the queer community online had finally led to something. Now, traveling for drag shows around the country feels like a personal accomplishment.
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My challenges were mostly related to my personal life and my mental health. I relied a lot on the queer community, they were almost like family, but it’s inevitable that there will be misunderstandings and drama. Queer people love drama! But that’s just part of life.
FII: Where would you like to be in the future? What are some of your long-term and short-term goals?
damn it: To be honest, I’m not one to have very complex goals, I’m more of a go-with-the-flow kind of person. In the short term, I’d probably like to incorporate some of my love of music and songwriting into some of my shows.
FII: Finally, if you had a message for a young outsider/your past self, what would it be?
damn it: Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s going to be okay, you’re where you’re supposed to be. It will get better for you.