After watching the fourth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality competition television show for drag queens, Celia Light knew she wanted to be one as well.
“I saw these men in wigs doing what I always wanted to do,” Light said. “I wanted to be Beyoncé, but I did not know how that was possible as Christopher, which is my boy name. I figured out it could be possible as Celia.”
Light, now an up-and-coming drag queen in Austin, performed at an event called “Personal Branding with Drag Queens” at the College of Business Administration on Tuesday. The event was hosted by the GLBTQA+ Business Student Association and focused on people’s desire to create authentic versions of themselves, association president Claire Levinson said.
“When you are branding yourself, your name is everything,” Light said. “Whether it is your own personal name (or) your company name, it sends a message out to your audience before anything.”
Integrated MPA junior Levinson said the association is focused on providing LGBTQ students and allies an inclusive space for workforce-based discussion in the LGBTQ community.
Cuban singer Celia Cruz inspired Light growing up, and Light said she inspired her drag name. Light originally wanted to be called Celia Luz, which means light in Spanish, but worried that non-Spanish speakers would mispronounce her name.
“So I was like, ‘Okay, it will just be Light,’” Light said. “When I put that together, I realized what my name sounded like, and then I knew that had to be my name because … she may or may not be there, the cellulite.”
Light said each drag queen has a unique characteristic that sets them apart from others.
“My thing is entertainment with comedy,” Light said. “I have a message, but mine is a lot (lighter) like having fun and being yourself.”
Journalism junior Chris Barboza, who is also a drag queen under stage name Justice, said personal branding and drag performances are intertwined.
“When it comes to queer performers in general, I think the gatekeepers … have had a big say in who gets access to what kind of queer art you might be exposed to,” Justice said. “[In drag] it is well known that it is up to the drag queen to cultivate her own branding and her own space.”