“Call me he, call me she, call me whatever you want as long as you call me,” says 24-year-old drag queen Betta Naan Stop!
Trained in ballet, jazz, and contemporary dance forms, Prateek Sachdeva never thought of such a distinct dream; a dream that could help him turn his passions and preferences into a life-long cherished profession.
Born and brought up in Noida, he never thought he would succeed in identifying himself amidst the orthodox society as something beyond their imagination of expression and art, in a society that is obsessed with identification of sexuality and is highly non supportive of one’s personal preferences; coming out as a ‘drag queen’ in a country like India, definitely has been challenging enough for him.
A chef by qualification from IHM, Bangalore and a drag artist from the heart, he finds his daily joy by teaching dance to women and kids of his society.
“The spirit to pursue my dream and the courage to be proud would not have been possible without the support of my mom,” he says. “I identify as a male but had been really feminine since childhood. Applying make-up was the favorite past-time for me and my sister. It was fun back when I myself could not accept who I was, my sexuality was not just a matter of gossip and concern of the society, I myself came to the realization later.”
It all started back in Australia when Prateek witnessed his first drag show and it was no less than a dream come true for him. “‘Take this to India,’ Penny Silon said, I obediently followed.”
In a conversation that night with the drag queen Penny Silon, he felt the need to bring this culture to India. With the ongoing schemes and discounts back then for Christmas, he bought a lot of make-up for himself and family which he efficiently did use for a greater purpose back in India.
‘Drag Culture’ is much more than just cross-dressing, but for Indian audiences it’s just an unexplored field of art which undoubtedly attains the bare minimum acceptance. Nobody wants to experiment and play with the safe profit earning culture of high profile clubs and their events. Due to which artists like Prateek struggle to showcase this unique, unconventional form of art and entertainment.
“The only thing holding me back is the right opportunity. I’m so pumped up with this that nothing can stop me now.”
But when it comes to the entire society, it becomes really heart-breaking. Not everyone seeks acceptance but not everyone can deal with unnecessary criticism either. Things are just as difficult for an artist doing drag as any other art form in a country like India, like any other country which is highly dominant of its ‘culture’ and ‘superstitions’.
It’s not about fighting your own identity to create one, it’s more about realization and the courage you put in your identity.
After all, acceptance of the society is difficult but acceptance of the self is the ultimate ‘glory’.