In class he is Blaise Wingo: a Longview freshman working diligently for his Certified Nursing Assistant certificate with the long term goal of becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse. On stage however, he is “Gemini Alexander Brooks”, an award winning drag queen.
Raised in a single parent household by his mother, Pamela Gordon, a former KC student and Rangerette, Wingo was first introduced to drag performance at the age of 16 after sneaking into Decisions, an alternative bar, and watching a show.
“I was drawn in by the performance and theatrics of drag,” Wingo said.
His first performance was for a contest and Wingo was given $40 to find a dress and wig; with the winner being allowed to perform on Sunday with an experienced drag queen.
“I went in and got the most ridiculous outfit and had to borrow someone’s hair,” Wingo said. “It was a fun experience. I won that night and that’s kind of where it started.”
He was taken in as a “drag daughter” by Ricky Lund, a 25 year veteran of drag performance who went by the stage name “Brittany Brooks.” The concept and practice of “drag daughter’s” is common in the drag community. A more experienced performer can take an up-and-coming drag queen and teach them various methods and skills in order to help them succeed and find their stage persona. In return for help, the newcomer will take on the last name of their new drag mother. A drag mother can also have more than one drag daughter, who become drag sisters.
“You try to learn as much as you can and you get that one person who shows you how to do your face, how you should dress and how to put on your hip pads,” Wingo said. “Usually you wait for them to ask you to be your ‘drag mother’ and by that it means that she basically raised you; you become a family.”
For 12 years Wingo has dazzled crowds in bars across East Texas
and has won several pageants, bar titles and preliminary titles with his performances, his proudest being, “Miss Gay Texas State at Large.” There are two titles for the “Miss Gay Texas State” pageant which are separated by weight class.
There are many misconceptions about drag queens, mainly with confusing all drag queens as being transgender women. The prominent difference between the two is that drag is a style of performance whilst being transgender is an identity and daily part of life.
There were times however, when the line between his stage persona and himself became blurred.
“There was a time I was more comfortable being ‘Gemini’ than I would being Blaise,” Wingo said.” Gemini was this confident stage presence and it was easy to get lost in that.”
Wingo has also found that with drag performance becoming more mainstream with shows such as “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” people don’t go out to see the local shows as much.
“You sit there and watch the crowds decline and you don’t want to perform for three people because you don’t get that vibe that you get from larger crowds,” he said.
Despite the somewhat dubious future of local drag performances, Wingo has decided to focus time on earning a degree in nursing, specifically in geriatrics.
“I didn’t get to know my grandparents so I believe that is why I’m drawn to taking care of older people,” he said.
With Wingo excelling in his classes and clinical studies, he applies the same perseverance and care into his studies as he did his performances.
“Be yourself; don’t ever lose you, all you can do is be you.” Wingo said.