Llyr - Young and Fabulous
Llyr is one of those extraordinarily rare people who not only knows himself but truly appreciates the person he is. At 14 years of age, Llyr possesses an unapologetic sense of self that allows him to express himself through dance, song, and drag. I was inspired throughout our conversation by his self-assurance, easy laughter, and maturity. I hope you are every bit as inspired and charmed by Llyr as I was. Happy reading!
Hometown: I was born in Chicago, but grew up in Decatur, GA
How do you identify? I'm a gay male
What are your favorite queer resources? RuPaul’s Drag Race!
What do you aspire to be? A makeup artist or hair stylist. I want to get my Bachelors, then go to Cosmetology school for a year and get professional training, then I want to work in the film industry and do makeup for the stars. Eventually, I want to have my own reality T.V. show.
Life hashtag? #unpredictable
Talk to me about coming out.
I came out as bi first over Instagram. I didn’t tell my mom or friends’ parents - I just made the announcement and hid the post from certain people so they wouldn’t see it. Then I started to tell friends that I was gay, either in person or over Messenger. When I started at my new school, Dekalb School of the Arts, I finally accepted it and basically announced that I was gay on my first day. So that's when I really came out, but the original coming out post was maybe January of 2017.
How did you feel about coming out?
I think as soon as I knew, I was okay. The minute I was sure, it felt like I needed to come out because it was so obvious to everyone. I was ready when I put it all out there, so there was no reason to lie about it or hide anything. I always say, “If you’re not ready, don’t do it” but I was ready so it was pretty easy.
How did your family react?
I’ve come out to two cousins, but they already knew. It’s pretty obvious and they’re not stupid. I haven’t come out to the rest yet. We’re going on a family trip to Ireland this summer so I’m thinking that might be the right time to tell them - when we’re all together. I still don’t know how I’m going to approach it or what I’m going to say.
For my mom, I told her when we were in the car on the way to school one day and I kept thinking “You just have to say it. It’s so obvious. Just say it!” So I did. And she said, “I know. I’ve known since you were like two.” So it wasn’t a big deal. After I came out to my mom, she threw me a surprise drag show birthday party.
What is drag?
Drag is a way to express your gender in a non-conforming way. For example, you can be more feminine or more androgynous with drag. So you could do drag with a beard, mustache, chest hair or you can look super feminine and have makeup and wigs. Drag is ultimately a guy dressing up like girl (drag queen) or a girl dressing up like a guy (which is called a drag king, but it’s less common).
Tell me more about this drag show birthday party.
Basically, my mom begged me to plan my birthday party. She was like, “Let me plan it, let me plan it, let me plan it!” And so finally I said, “Okay, okay, you can plan my birthday.” She wouldn’t tell me anything about it. I wanted to know so I could say “Yea or nay” but she wouldn’t tell me a single detail.
She invited local drag queens to come. There were 4 of them: Charmaine Dupree, Moan a Lott, The Dot Come, and Queen Eden Cakes. (Oh, I just got that joke. Eating cakes, Eden cakes. Wow, that took me a while.) So they came out and we were having the best time. We met them, and talked to them, and they taught me how to do a proper death drop. Before the party ended I did two numbers - one to Havana and one to Praying by Kesha. It was really fun. My mom did a nice job, although I will never let her surprise me again. I hated the suspense and not knowing what was going on.
How did your friends respond to you coming out?
Everyone was really supportive and loving and caring. It was just like nobody cared. This four-mile radius from Decatur to East Atlanta is super gay and queer. Everyone is really open-minded until you head up north. So I came out, but it was really easy. I was still me, you know. My coming out experience was pretty normal and I know that’s kind of the dream situation. A lot of people don’t have that same experience. I lived the best coming out experience because I didn’t have any of the problems of non-acceptance.
Talk to me about art school.
Well, I'm a dance major and a vocal minor. I actually just had my chorus final the other day. I had to perform a solo. For my dance final, we had to choreograph any song in a group of three people. The teachers made a box on the floor that was 70 inches and they challenged us to stay inside the box the entire time; so there were three of us in a 70-inch box dancing! We didn’t want to choose a generic theme like stuck in the box, so our idea was that during the day we were normal happy kids but during the night we turned all creepy and we wanted to kill ourselves. Our performance started at the nighttime. So we were lying on the floor swaying and then we get up and dropped hanging ourselves while making weird faces until we progressed to the daytime. It was like a 24-hour cycle that kept repeating itself. We were really excited about it.
What drew you to dance?
When I was two I told my mom I wanted to take ballet. My dad was a dancer for nineteen years, but I didn’t know it at the time. When we moved down here I started at the Y in their toddler ballet class when I was three. Since then, I’ve moved around to different dance centers. I’ve been in productions of the Nutcracker, The Princess and the Goblin, as well as others. Altogether, I’ve been a dancer now for eleven years.
Who inspires you?
RuPaul! Yeah yeah, I'm obsessed. Being a black gay male is something you don’t see at all in the media. For him to go from having the RuPaul Show with Michelle Visage in the 90’s, which was a really tiny show that only lasted two seasons, now having a show that has run 13 seasons and is very successful is incredible. It's the dream. He definitely inspires me.
There are also drag queens that I’m obsessed with. Currently, I’m in love with Aquaria from New York, she’s like a club kid, Blair St. Clair, she’s a Broadway queen, and Farrah Moan, who is a look queen. Those are my main three that I look up to the most. Even as boys they’re not your typical males. Sometimes you see a drag queen and when they’re out of drag you would never expect them to be a drag queen, but some of them you look at them and you’re like, “Yeahhhh, that person is gay.” and that's like me. When we people walk into a room and they see me, they’re like “Oh. That one, he’s gay.”
What is it like being a young black gay male?
So there’s really nobody in the media like me and if there is, they haven’t come out yet. But I can combine something RuPaul says or does with someone that is white and gay or the same age as me and create something that is tailored to me and my experience.
You seem really confident in yourself. Where does that come from?
Honestly, you just have to be yourself. If you try to act like someone else, nothing will work out for you and I mean, it took a while. When I came out, I finally accepted and embraced myself. I think it’s because of my personality. I don’t care what other people think. If you don’t like me, don’t talk to me. And if I don’t like you, I’m not going to talk to you either. I’m not going to waste my time on someone that isn’t supportive. It isn’t worth it.
Do you have any coming out advice?
Just do it when you’re ready. If you do it when someone else tells you, you’re not going to be prepared for what happens. You’re going to think, “Oh my gosh. What did I just do?” Especially if you don’t get the reaction you were hoping for. It’s not going to be a good situation. You really have to be ready. And if it's obvious you should go ahead and get it over with. Especially if your family and friends will be supportive.