Humans of San Marcos

“Let them look upon it”: How a Texas State alum found his passion in drag

todaySeptember 15, 2023 33

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By Madelyn Weirich

News Reporter

Tequila Rose is no stranger to the spotlight. With her iconic ’60s-inspired hair, vibrant dresses, heels and stage presence, the Texas State alum has been stealing the show since the birth of her alter ego in 2016.

This Saturday evening, Tequila Rose acted alongside five other performers to perform a Drag Showdown at the Marc. The event was part of an all-day “Loud and Proud” festival organized to celebrate Pride Month in San Marcos.

Celebrations that day included a vendors market, drag brunch, Pride Parade and live music by LGBTQ artists. The day was organized by the combined efforts of Ava Productions and Maddie and the Dead Names. Other artists who contributed were DJ Aminal with Dose of Dance and Tanner Norsworthy.

At 8:07 p.m., Tequila Rose, May Magdalene, Terra the Queen, Veronica Valentine and Aurora transformed the Marc into a space of celebration to give the San Marcos community a drag show full of music, color and light. The performers

Attendants filled the room with energy and excitement as they clapped along to each number, cheering and dancing with every new song, actress and costume change.

Tying the show together was the event’s host, Tequila Rose.

Beneath the lashes, wig and heels

Before Tequila Rose was born, there was Mathew Cannon, a young performer and member of the LGBTQ community. Cannon grew up in Harlingen, a city in the Rio Grande Valley near the Texas-Mexico border. At the time, socially conservative values were widespread, which presented difficulties for him as he navigated his sexuality and gender.

Though Cannon says he never “officially” came out, he knew from a young age that he was “always a little fruity.” Growing up in a conservative town before gay marriage was legalized, he often struggled to feel he fit in with most groups.

“I was never physically bullied, like hands or like swings or anything like that, but verbally,” Cannon said. “I had a lot of experiences with words, and I learned to not let them define me.”

By the age of twelve, Cannon knew confidently that he was part of the LGBT community, but he didn’t have a large community to support him. It wasn’t until he joined his high school’s theatre club that Cannon’s confidence began to grow. At this time, he discovered the world of Drag, quickly noticing the similarities between the two art forms.

“I grew into my own power and of myself and who I was,” Cannon said. “Now, I never justify what I do, what I love.”

Finding community

Cannon attributes much of the confidence he now carries to the role models he had growing up. While at first he was nervous to express his sexuality and “feminine” mannerisms, a fellow student’s example of embracing his identity as a member of the LGBT community encouraged Cannon to do the same.

“Dev was so out and so loud and proud. And I think seeing someone like that just be like that in a small town just told me that it was okay to be me,” Cannon said. “So I think towards the end of the years, it’s really healed and become accepted with everything, and then finally here I am in the full drag race.”

Later, Cannon himself grew to become a role model to the younger students and members of the LGBT community. He was proud to show them an example of a successful person who didn’t fit into stereotypical gender norms and hoped it would give them the confidence to unashamedly express their own identities.

For Cannon, the Drag community now serves as a source of inspiration and empowerment that provides him with mentors and support from fellow artists.

Let them look upon it

Cannon’s first experiences performing drag were at the Tuesday night lip sync battles hosted by Stonewall, the former LGBT club in Downtown San Marcos. His time in theater had provided him with a collection of costumes and makeup, so he decided to give drag a try during his freshman year at Texas State.

At Stonewall, Cannon was welcomed into a community of fellow performers who he says have become his family. Since then, he has traveled throughout Texas and the United States, but always loves returning to San Marcos.

With the closure of Stonewall last year, the LGBT community in San Marcos was left disheartened and unsure of where they could go to feel supported and celebrated. For Cannon and his fellow performers, the closure meant the loss of a place they called home, where they had met and formed tight bonds with their “drag sisters” and “drag mothers.” Still, Cannon encourages members of the community to connect where they can and stay proud of their identities.

While there are no official plans for a new LGBT club in San Marcos, former performers, members of the community and allies are working to transform the spaces that already exist.

Bars like the Marc and the Porch periodically invite drag queens to perform and work to include LGBT artists in their music repertoires. Until there is another space officially dedicated to the celebration and support of the LGBT community in San Marcos, Cannon promotes these events and continues to preach:

“Be vivacious on the streets. Let them look upon it.”

Featured image by Madelyn Weirich.

Written by: Preethi Mangadu

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