A young, queer artist who is out and proud online was something you rarely find, especially in a country which defines gender roles quite rigidly. Siaan explores gender, personal and social content, as well as drag on his profile, with a whopping 16.7K followers on Instagram.
In Conversation with FII, Mx. Siaan talks about being queer, queer representation and navigating online and offline spaces as an LGBTQI member.
FII: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about who you are?
Siaan: My name is Siaan, and I also go by Mx. Stallion. I am an artist, content creator, and drag king. I really love performing and acting and hope to explore more forms of art. I am non-binary and go by he/they pronouns.
FII: What led you to have an online presence and become a content creator?
Siaan: I started content creation a couple of years ago during the lockdown when TikTok was still around. I then moved to other platforms and social media. The Internet was actually how I came out.
FII: What is it like to be queer on the internet, specifically on social media? Is there any way to reach out to queerphobic/transphobic people to change their opinions and views?
Siaan: The queer community online is extremely supportive, especially when I was not surrounded by support systems around me in real life. My best friend is from Bhutan, I have never had the chance to meet them but they are still a huge part of my life.
In my experience, I have not seen people willing to change their opinions very quickly. It is even very difficult to create change within the queer community, let alone outside of it. Issues like misgendering and deadnaming are still rampant, and there is a need for a lot of patience with unreasonable people.
FII: Besides being a content creator, you are also a drag king and performer. Could you tell us a little about what drag is and what its significance is?
Siaan: I can’t give you a proper definition, but to me, drag is a masculine person dressing feminine, or otherwise. It is an artistic tradition that magnifies what a person is and watching it always feels jaw-dropping. Drag started within the queer community by black people in the USA. It’s not just in the club culture, but also in the roots of the trans community.
Drag king culture has grown a lot since I started doing drag. I knew just two kings in India when I began, but it’s a big thing now. It has been nice to see that journey and the increased representation of drag kings in the city. Drag queens are definitely more common than kings. I think that is partly because of family pressure being stronger on AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth) people, so many of them are unable to express themselves freely and be themselves.
There is still a long way to go in terms of queer representation, but I’m happy to see the way it’s going!
FII: What has your experience of performing drag been like?
Siaan: I have performed in Bombay, Pune, Banglore, and online, for over a year now. I have performed with The Gay Gaze, with the Mumbai Urban Art Festival at Sassoon Docks, Social, in clubs and many other events. The drag scene has evolved a lot since I started, and so have I. I’m really glad I’ve gotten to know so many drag artists from around the world through social media and the Internet as well.
At the same time, I am a multifaceted person, and I am interested in many more forms of art and expression. I currently do acting and editing as well, and I look forward to seeing what I do in the future.
FII: How do you feel about queer representation in the media? How did it affect you growing up?
Siaan: I did not see any representation of the queer community in the media as a child. I just knew I was attracted to women, like actresses in item songs in old 90s films. Yet, I grew up as a woman, I didn’t know I was non-binary. I was trying my best to conform to heterosexual norms and be attracted to boys.
Representation is better these days, larger in number and in quality. But it is still problematic, like with men playing trans women on the screen. I understand that filmmakers have different incentives, such as the need to have big-name actors to bring in views, but representation could get more authentic. Queer people making queer films and being in the room where it happens would definitely make some of these portrayals more authentic. It is not that straight people cannot write stories about the queer community, but that they must have empathy for the community they are trying to represent. That empathy can only come from having someone from the community with them during the production process.
FII: What have been some of your personal achievements and challenges in life?
Siaan: Doing drag is definitely one of the biggest achievements in life. My very first drag show was online. It felt like all my years of being part of the queer community online had finally resulted in something. Now, travelling for drag shows around the country feels like a personal achievement.
My challenges have mostly been about my personal life and my mental health. I did rely on the queer community a lot, they were almost like family, but it is inevitable to have misunderstandings and drama. Queer people love drama! But that’s just a part of life.
FII: Where would you like to be in the future? What are some of your long-term and short-term goals?
Siaan: I’m honestly not the kind of person who has very intricate goals, I’m more of a go-with-the-flow kind of person. In the short term, I would probably like to incorporate some of my love of music and songwriting into some of my shows.
FII: Lastly, if you had a message for a young queer/your past self, what would it be?
Siaan: Don’t be so hard on yourself. Everything will be fine, you are where you should be. It’s going to get better for you.