A portrait of two queens with a single quest for acceptance
Drag Fest 2022 was Chanel vs Gucci.
Fantasia Santiago possessed a sure sparkling elegance while Jessie Banks, on the other hand, had a bold glittering glamour.
These two girls were the brightest among four stars as they competed for the title of Queen of Diamond Infinity 6 Drag Fest 2022.
On June 25, the tightly packed crowd at the Theatre Guild in Georgetown held a collective breath as only three points separated Fantasia and Jessie.
The judges were splitting hairs as they could hardly decide who deserved the crown.
In the end, experience won, Jessie was announced the first runner-up, and Fantasia was crowned queen.
Now, Fantasia is living her dream of representing Guyana at the Queens of Queens pageant in Trinidad and Tobago where Drag Queens from around the Caribbean will battle it out for the regional title.
“I always had that dream and that goal to say when I grow up, I…wanted to take part in Queens of Queens…Going to Trinidad I’m actually taking all of my country, all of my country’s history, I’m…going to showcase all that Guyana is about,” says Fantasia, a healthcare worker whose birth name is Mario Profitt.
Jessie, on the other hand, is an entrepreneur and TikTok megastar who, at the time this article was penned, had 66.7K followers and 832.5K likes. She takes her platform very seriously.
But between herself and Fantasia, the common quest is one of acceptance, not only for themselves but for the community they represent.
“I always knew I was different and society is so opinionated about everything…If you wanna get something done you need to have that confidence in yourself and I was always inspired by my mother because she was a single parent and she taught me what it’s like to be independent. So that was a motivation for me, and that is something that I apply in my future, and with my platform, I’m not only a voice for the LGBTQ community, I’m a voice for people who are suffering from chronic diseases, who are born with a different type of disability, who are being body shamed, who are being labelled, who are being categorised by society and it’s something I always dreamed of, to be a voice for the people.”
Fantasia also takes her work very seriously as a medical practitioner who wears many hats, working as a Patient Care Assistant, HIV Counsellor and Tester, Senior Peer Educator and in her words “last and foremost”, Advocate for the LGBTQ community.
She sits on the board of the newly formed “Proud to be Trans” organisation located in Region Three with the mandate to “mobilise” persons under the LGBTQ umbrella in Guyana.
“Some persons still want to come out but they don’t know how to come out…so we are there to assist the young marginalised people from the LGBTQ community.”
Jessie credits the popular tv show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ for her foray into drag and Fantasia, her background in theatre arts. Drag now gives her the opportunity to showcase her unique talents.
Both queens shared that what they learned from participating in Drag Fest will carry over to other aspects of their lives, which includes dealing with discrimination.
“When you’re courageous about yourself and people see that, they will judge you because they don’t have the bravery that you do to come out and be yourself…just be the best version of yourself and trust me you will have a bright future” shared Jessie.
Fantasia left a message for the Guyanese public.
“If you see a gay person, some of us we know…we all have our ways, we are beautiful persons. All of us are loved by the almighty and I think the general pub (public), if you get to know some of the persons of the LGBTQ community, you won’t regret (it).”