Hey, I’m Saya Naomi and I am from Chicago, Illinois.
So four years ago, my ex and I were having a night and we ended up drinking a lot. Drinking led to us getting annoyed and angry with each other to the point where I left. When I crossed the very busy street, I noticed that there was some, some noise behind me and I turned around. It was three guys. They mugged me and left me out for dead it felt like.
I remember waking up on the street and wondering, like, what just happened knowing the only thing that I remember was me being with my ex boyfriend at the time I knew he wouldn’t do this to me. I was just sad that he wasn’t with me when this happened.
So I got home, went to my room, laid down for a little bit. And my roommate came into my room, came to my room, knocked on the door and asked me what had happened. I didn’t know really what had happened because all I could think about was I think we broke up.
And my roommate at the time was just like, “Well, what happened to your face?” I went to the bathroom and I saw it. It was just marks everywhere. Later on that night, I got home, took everything off. And as I was taking it all off, I kind of just, like, looked at myself.
So I’m, like, washing all of that off and I went and laid in the bed.
It was like four o’clock in the morning. I wake up and I’m rubbing my eyes. I pop up, run to the bathroom and I’m looking in the mirror and I just keep doing this, like, what is going on? All I saw was this eye. This eye was, like, completely white. So I freaked out. I called my mom. She’s like, “It’s probably just some sleep. You just gotta rub it off. Let it wait a few hours. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Wake up the next day and I’m just still freaking out. And so I’m like, “Ma, I need to go to the hospital.”
So I’m finally sitting in the chair after I was in the ER room waiting for, like, four hours. So the doctors didn’t seem like they knew what was going on with me at all. And they just kept talking to each other, you know, each other. And I was just like, “Oh my gosh, somebody, please tell me something. Somebody tell me something.”
And they’re just like, “We don’t know.” When I was leaving the hospital, my mind was kind of just drawing blank because all I can do was just look in my phone and see this eye was completely white in this eye was normal.
I finally found a doctor and I had to go to this procedure with them for eight months because no one knew what was going on at all. Throughout this process, I literally heard from friends over and over telling me, “Oh, it’s not that bad. You kind of looked like Storm. You kind of look like an X-men. It’s kind of cool.” And every time I heard these stories from them, I got even more mad.
I had to put steroids in my eyes myself three times a day to get rid of the color, the white. The color, eventually the white color eventually faded a bit. I am a local drag queen in Chicago, so I couldn’t really wear makeup or get in my gigs because I have an eye situation going on. Later on, my doctor finally told me that I can wear makeup and begin my process to get back to work.
Well along this process, RuPaul’s Drag Race came up. Throughout the process of prepare for Drag Race, I… I lost myself and I just didn’t feel comfortable. I didn’t like my makeup. Didn’t like what I looked like. I eventually finished the audition and I hated it. So it really just put me in this really dark spot about my career in drag, as a human being.
I remember laying in the bed in my dark room and feeling so much hurt. The best thing about the room was it had a walk-in closet where I had my vanity. And I sat there and I looked in the mirror and all I can think to myself was I’m alone. I don’t have this relationship. I can’t work. I can’t see. No one is around me. No one cares. Everything was just so dark.
You know, you could only have so many dark days before something has to give. And then eventually, like, my boss called me in to work. And I came in and he gave me so much, like, words of encouragement and he let me know how, even though he’s my boss, he’s also my friend and has been my friend. And that really just, like, warmed my heart.
So then I called my mom and shared the news with her. And then she literally just took the cop-pow-yo out and made the conversation even greater.
Then my best friend comes in from New York and is like “Bitch!”. So my friend was like getting me together and hyping me up.
It was like, “You know what? if you don’t feel like doing drag right now, just let people see who you are.” So I started to go out as a boy, letting people see who Saya is outside of her shit. I had to get to learn to love me like this before I can put it all on. Eventually I just started working again and I’m back!
You know, and I still deal with the daily struggles of not being able to see out of both my eyes. But it’s been four years and the process only gets easier with time.
You know when you learn to see through the bullshit? That’s what it feels like. I still cannot see out of this eye. I can move it and it dances with the other eye. But visually, there’s no – there’s nothing for me out of that eye. It’s just there as a decoy. When I say you can, like, see through the bullshit, it’s like you lose this sense of visually seeing, but you really think deeper about what your next step is, what you’re next move is, because you can really – you go through it and you see things differently.
This confidence is here because I kept… I kept true to myself and I listened to the people that I listened to to continue to blossom., to continue to be this light and energy for people to feel, and lead with love and positivity.