Interview by JESSICA PAG-IWAYAN
The journey toward self-discovery is a life-long process, filled with moments of self-doubt. For some members of the LGBTQ+ community, self-acceptance could also lead to even bigger challenges, such as dealing with a judgmental society or seeking family approval. These were the same challenges drag artist Francis Siapno Lopez had to face.
In conversation with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, the 29-year-old performance artist from Baguio city openly shares his dark past, which he bravely fought to overcome to be the person he is today—a proud bisexual gay who works as a paralegal secretary during the day and a beautiful drag performer named Miz Kiki Krunch at night.
Can you share with us your journey toward self-discovery?
When I was a kid, I already had an inkling that I was not like the others. I enjoyed playing jackstone, pretend cooking or lutu-lutuan using leaves and clay pot toys, and Chinese garter.
I would often stare blankly, thinking of what would I be like when I grew up. I was fascinated with Britney Spears, which then developed into love for pop music.
It wasn’t clear to me then what gender I was attracted to. But I remember vividly that it was when I was molested by an older cousin that I started questioning whether I was gay or not. I was confused at first. It felt wrong.
It was the first time I felt disgusted with myself because I was molested. I was afraid of telling my mom that my cousin was harassing me, so I just gave in. I was 11 years old when that happened. I was mad at him for causing confusion about my identity.
When I was studying at the University of the Philippines (UP-Baguio), it became clear to me that I was attracted to both sexes. Introduction and proper knowledge on sexual and gender orientation and preference helped me to fully understand myself.
How has it changed the way you live?
In the first few years after coming out to my family and friends, it was a challenge because I was raised as a Christian. But as time went by, I became confident enough to fully embrace my identity.
Does being a member of the LGBTQ+ community affect your profession as an artist?
Yes, but in a positive way. I am more creative as a gay person. My drag persona brings out the best and most authentic part of me. I can express myself better, I can perform better when I channel my weirdness, my “freak,” my truth.
Doe it also affect your art?
I am bisexual. So, whenever I perform, I channel my feminine side to take over. I summon Miz Kiki and her beauty. When she arrives, that’s when the magic happens—rainbows and glitters appear, so to speak.
Have you ever experienced discrimination in the field because of your gender?
In the art community, no. Baguio city artists are very receptive of what I do. They embrace weirdness. In the workplace, though, it is a different story. Some appreciate it, some don’t. I guess I simply can’t please everyone.
What lessons did you learn from it?
I learned that opinions of other people about me should not define who I am. You have to make sure that you know yourself fully and truly, so when people start throwing stones at you, you will not be shaken. If your foundation is strong, your core is strong.
Are you happy with the way society is now beginning to perceive members of the community?
Yes. Somehow, people have become more accepting of the community. But then again, we still have a long way to go. I am firm on my stand that congress should pass the SOGIE equality bill now!
What’s your message to everyone, for members, friends, and adversaries of the community?
Brothers and sisters, let us keep on fighting. Do not be afraid to embrace your “freak” and weirdness. Love is love and no one should take that away from us, and no one should dictate who deserves to be loved.