HIV is not an easy topic to broach, but drag queen Lady Quesa’Dilla—who’s a composite character of several of her Mexican family members—took the stage and braved a crowd at Bushwig, an annual showcase for gender-fluid talent in Brooklyn, to reveal her HIV status.
“The thing that gives me the most shame and embarrassment is that within the last year I was diagnosed HIV positive,” she told the audience, adding, “Let me tell you, there were times that I didn’t want to be here anymore because there have been so many times that I have hated my brown queer body. But you know what? I’m still here! And I know that for some of us, loving ourselves, loving our bodies takes a lot of work, and for my black, brown and queer bodies out there, it takes so much work.”
The crowd cheered, “We love you,” as the Youth Leadership Developer, who goes by Alejandro Rodríguez when he presents as a man, shared his struggles.
The 29-year-old, who works for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (The Center) in New York City, sat down with TheBody.com, an online HIV/AIDS magazine, after her disclosure and spoke more freely about how she contracted the virus: “I had been engaging in risky behavior for a year, hooking up and not using protection. I was fully aware of what I was doing,” she admitted to the site, adding: “I had a lot of shame and embarrassment because I had all this knowledge. I work at the damn LGBT Center. So even talking about this is still really difficult for me. I felt like I was this pillar of the community, and I had all the information, and I still did this to myself.”
Now that she’s out about her HIV status, Lady Q looks forward to finding love, but expressed anxiety about dating: “I’m so self-conscious about myself and my body,” she said, “I’ve always been, and now HIV adds an additional layer to it. Now I have to navigate dating and sex, telling people my status and having to teach people stuff.”
She also confessed her struggle to love the male side of herself, but hopes to work on that going forward: “I recognize the beauty of Miss Q,” she said, “but I wanna recognize the beauty of Alejandro.”