My name’s Melissa Driscol and I’m from Lorain, Ohio.
So growing up, I had a lot of activities that I had to be a part of. And with that, my family in particular had a few friends that we did a lot with. So there’s this one friend, his name was, let’s say, SC. And we did things like swimming and roller skating, music activities, a lot of musicals, we would go see shows, fairs, Cedar Point, all different kinds of things.
So then fast forward to moving to New York. I made a lot of friends very fast. I worked in a piano bar and I was involved in performing, so I made a lot of friends that way as well. And I had one friend, again in particular, that we shared the love of activities. We were on the New York urban volleyball league, we cooked together, we sang together.
So one day, it was gay pride, about a week after gay pride. My best friend and I, we did a show. We called it “Born This Way” and it was here at the Stonewall. And I take a ton of pictures, but I had taken this beautiful picture, or I had someone use my phone and take a beautiful picture of us on stage, wearing our short little dresses. And she in heels, about 6 foot 8. And I’m about 5 foot 4. And it was just the most, it was just, we were vibrant and happy and singing and basically, I instantly posted that picture on Facebook.
The day after the show, I was laying in bed. As I always do, I pick up my phone, I check my email and all the messages. And I had the message pop up from SC back in Ohio. And I was all excited. I was like, “Oh, I love getting messages from my friends at home.”
And to my devastation, it was a message based on that picture I posted from the night before of Chocolatina performing at the Stonewall. It basically said, “Dear Melissa. I always knew you were theatrical. You need to put the lord back into your life. I’m sure your mother is very disappointed in you.”
I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I felt hurt. I felt betrayed. I felt like all those childhood memories were just blown up in smoke in one message. And, of course, I messaged back right away and I said, “You know I have plenty of the lord in my life. My mother is my biggest fan. And I will never speak to you again.”
And then I scrolled on and I deleted his whole family – sisters, cousins, everybody, but I at first wanted to hide. I think I stopped posting for awhile. I think I didn’t tag for myself. I think I just like became a little bit inhibited. And then I have to say, very shortly after that, I was out! Not only I came out of May the next year in 2010, I started dating my girlfriend at time. And I just went out and proud. And I said, you know what, I’m not only performing with drag queens. I am gay, like I’m not even straight! Like what am I doing? It kind of woke me up to say, if someone’s going to judge you that hard, okay, let’s take a closer look and see what am I hiding because of how conservative my upbringing was.
And I decided, no more. And then I really truly think it became myself. Which, I’m a better person, more comfortable in my own skin. I think I’m more real and I think I’m more fun. I think I became more fun because I’m not hiding. If you want a judge, judge silently, judge on your own. Do not send me a message and tell me you don’t like my drag queen. Because to me it doesn’t matter.