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Drag queen shrugs off abuse

Moises Ismael (left) also known as the drag queen Lakaesiss.

Moises Ismael (left) also known as the drag queen Lakaesiss.

A Paceville drag queen is challenging homophobic sentiment in the island’s clubbing district despite regularly facing abuse from revellers.

Moises Ismael, 29, from Panama, works as an entertainer and host at a gay club, AXM, in the heart of Paceville.

Mr Ismael, or Lakaesiss as he is known in drag, recounts how he regularly faces offensive taunts and at times the threat of physical violence from some Paceville patrons.

“I treat people the way they treat me. I mean, I don’t hit them or offend them of course – I’m the queen. I just smile and ignore them, that’s enough,” he said.

He recalls how a conversation with another drag artist a few months ago was brought to a sudden end when a glass bottle was hurled towards them.

I don’t hit them or offend them of course – I’m the queen

“I was just talking to my friend and then this guy comes and pulls my friend’s wig off. I tried to calm the situation and he did it again. Then he punched me from behind when I wasn’t looking,” Mr Ismael said, adding that he gets as much abuse as he does welcoming smiles from Paceville-goers.

The performer has been living in Malta since 2008, and first came to the island to work in another gay club.

The AXM club he works in today is part of a global chain that donates chunks of its profits to supporting local gay communities. Club manager David Bajada said the establishment would be helping set up an HIV testing clinic in the area, as well as a number of gay support groups.

Mr Ismael describes his colleagues at the club as “a family” roping in the establishment’s clientele as part of the group of people he has come to consider as friends.

“You don’t need to be offensive or violent for people to get the message,” he says as he poses for photos from rows of flashing smart phones.

However, he says he feels safe in Paceville, especially as the heavy-set bouncers that stand at the entrances to neighbouring gentleman’s clubs have often stepped in to defuse potentially violent situations.

He explains how although he has a positive rapport with most of the bouncers, he has often been snubbed by some who, embarrassed by the friendship, dismiss him when huddled up in a group of bouncers or bar managers.

“It’s their problem,” he shrugs. “I am content and my life is full.”

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