5 Years: Manifest: West

On pre-empting the printed story with a long-overdue confession…

• Before that issue came out I went and talked to my mom and dad. Which was… really interesting. And really eye-opening, I think for them and for me.

• I told them right around the week before Christmas. December 13.

• It was interesting. I mean, it wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t good either. I think my parents were just trying to come to terms with it, and trying to decide how they felt about it independently of other things. Independent of me being their son, and independent of what their friends might think.

• After we talked and I left my mom and dad’s house, my dad sent me this incredibly wonderful email and just said how much he loved me, and how much my mom loved me, and how much they respected me and nothing would ever change that. From then on, my relationship with my parents has been very different. For the better.

• The issue came out in January and my mom and dad were like, ‘That’s so great, that’s so wonderful!’ And I think they just couldn’t believe the expanse, the scope of what I was doing.

On the bittersweet feeling of relief coupled with regret…
• I wish I would have [told them earlier]… I mean, coulda shoulda wouldas. But after the issue came out, my mom started to really kind of take a lot of joy in knowing that I was doing these things. And I had done so much up to that point that they were not a part of, and I think that was such a sad thing.

• I don’t know how driven I would have been up to that point, because it was kind of my own secret. It was my own thing.

• [Telling them] changed everything. I’m so much more open with my parents now. I look back, and I’m like, “I wish I would’ve shared it, I wish I would’ve told them about the drag because then they could have been there.”

• You always want that approval. I might not be doing what they thought I was doing, but I’m doing something equally of value. Because that matters. It totally matters. And I think everyone has that in them to want to please. At least to make their parents proud.

On “coming out”…
• It takes your parents as long to accept it – or so I’ve read – as it took you to accept it. So if you come out at 15, it’s supposed to take like eight to 15 years for someone to digest it and fully be comfortable with it, and live comfortably with it. So I mean, we’re on year two of this.

• I invited my parents to one of my big shows [at Axis]. I was equally as nervous as they were. I was like a kid going, ‘Oh my God, I can’t do a dick joke in front of my mom.’ [laughter] How’s my mom going to handle me [faking] going down on another drag queen on stage? So, for a period, I didn’t know what show I was going to ask them to, but we were building up to that…

• The first show they came to was my Halloween show, October 2012. “Heels of Horror.”

• I pointed them out in the audience. I think that’s kind of when my mom really got into it. When I said my mom and dad were there people went nuts. They treated them like gold. And I could just see how proud my dad was when I was onstage.

• [My mom] just had so much fun. I think they saw the joy that I was having. It was so much of Andrew onstage, and there’s like these puppets, a colorful backdrop, and amazingly fun performances, and I think they just kind of grabbed it and said, “Okay. We don’t necessarily get it, but we get it. We’re proud of him.”

• The curtain went up, and I just saw my mom there. It was this moment, and I remember my mom was dissecting everything about all of it, she was just absorbing it all and taking it in.

• It was just a really full-circle, heart-filled moment. I just didn’t ever think it would get there. And that’s what secrets do.

Join Andrew as Nina West at 11 p.m. on April 17 when she hosts Union Cafe’s 19th Anniversary Party with a star-studded show featuring Virgina West, Freesia Balls (Miss Axis 2013), Alexis Stevens, Anisa Love, Cool Ethan, Sabrina Heartt (Miss Union 2013), and more surprises! For more, visit www.superdragqueen.com

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Travis Hoewischer

I've been working in journalism in central Ohio for more than a decade, and have been lucky enough to be a part of (614) Magazine since the very first issue. Proud to live in a city that still cares – and still reads.

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