China González: “Freedom Inspires Freedom”

China González by Danilo Santana-David. Danilophoto.com
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Genderqueer comedian China González discusses finding their fashion and voice while rejecting the world’s binary bullshit.

I was never a “girl” who was into makeup, fashion or looks. In fact, I was terrified of all those things. It took some work but I eventually found the clothes and hairstyle in which I feel not just comfortable, but fashionable. But it wasn’t until I started letting my “inner dude” come out that I started feeling any attraction whatsoever to cosmetics.

It’s funny because I recently started dabbling with drag and now I love makeup. And so I’ve come to understand that it wasn’t makeup that I dreaded, but rather the idea of trying to look like someone that simply wasn’t me, the Cosmo, Mexican quinceañera, always femme, ready to be someone’s bride, “girl”. This doesn’t mean I can’t look like that sometimes. In fact, I enjoy knowing that tomorrow I am free to swap the dress for a suit, the hills for boots, and the makeup for a moustache. And when I do wear the dress in my head it’s super transgressive, because I don’t see myself as the “girl” that dress is meant for. I like to think of Eddie Izzard in Sexy or Dress To Kill, where even she would describe herself as a boy in girl mode. That’s me!

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This isn’t any different when I wear “male” clothes. I never feel more like a female than when I’m hiding my face between eyeliner sideburns. And I think this is easier for the world to get. A girl in drag is what they see, a girl pretending to be a boy, a girl in costume. They’re not totally wrong, but they’re also not totally right. It is when I am living the other side of me that I am probably the most invisible.

I once read Tim Burton saying he felt more at home in London than he did in the USA, because in London feeling like a foreigner was acceptable, but in USA he was supposed to have a sense of belonging that he simply didn’t have. That’s how I feel out of drag, where in my head, I am transgressing by wearing a short skirt and a pink crop top. Because all that people see is a pretty lady, so people approach me and address me as such. And the thing is, I never feel like I can correct them because they aren’t wrong. I am a woman, I am just not only a woman, and so the feeling of not being seen, of being incomplete, seems to follow me everywhere I go.

Back in Mexico, my experience of being bisexual was made invisible. Anyone who could, would take the chance to tell me I was just calling for attention. So when it came to my gender I decided I wasn’t going to give anyone the chance to tell me who I was. I guess that’s why I started talking about it in comedy, writing about it, and doing drag. Because as long as I’m holding the mic you don’t get a chance to talk back. At least that’s how it started. It wasn’t a conscious choice, but I know I brought my queerness to my art to define myself in a space where no one could speak for me. And then something magical happened. I did get feedback, but not the one I expected. People started letting me know that hearing me was helping them be themselves. This is when I really got it. Freedom inspires freedom, and the haters will hate but as long as you are holding the microphone of your own life no one can speak louder than you about who you are. Getting hold of that mic isn’t always easy, but once you have it you learn that you know your truth better than anyone.

These days I can say “fuck it, let them see a good girl doing what she’s supposed to, I can see beyond that, I can see that genderless, bi-gender, genderqueer chameleon from outer space. I can see me!”

China González’ Better Than Tacos plays Auckland’s Basement Theatre tonight and tomorrow.

Photo | Danilo Santana David.

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