Homeless Youth Outreach Worker from Queens, New York
“Crimson is my legal name, as of December. I’m still waiting for statements with the name change on my bills, and it’s a process, but… it’s lovely. I’m proud of saying my name now. It’s also part of my drag name, Crimson Kitty. I used to work as a cosmetologist, which would fund my nightly shenanigans doing burlesque. Eventually my act became more drag than burlesque, and I was kind of the only AFAB [assigned female at birth] person performing drag in gay clubs. Newer performers would come to me and say, ‘I want to do this, but I don’t think I can,’ and I would say, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ I became a mother-figure to these people, and I liked it. I liked to be of service.
A lot of my work with Hetrick-Martin is with the homeless. I live in Queens, so I know a few hotspots—we just go out there and ask people, ‘What do you need?’ If they need anything that we can provide, we get it for them. Another part of my job is helping to run the emergency drop-in pantry where people can access clothes, shoes, socks, and snacks six days a week.
I also co-run a few groups here, most notably Crafternoon every Wednesday from 4 to 7:15PM. I know how to sew because I make all my drag costumes, so I teach the kids. They are hysterical, ridiculous, they say the craziest things, they’re so resilient and so much smarter than I was at their age. What can be hard is when you try to help, and they don’t want it. But I find that, unless it’s a serious or extreme case, to just back up and wait for them to come to you. I call them my kittens, because some take a while to get used to you.
Back in the day I came out and was like, ‘I need the queer haircut. Everyone needs to know.’ This is probably information that’s 14 years too old, but back then all lesbians had the same haircut. But then I loved it. I go to a fantastic queer-friendly barber in Crown Heights called Camera Ready Kutz, and I dye it myself with Manic Panic, which I’ve been using since I was 14 years old—I’m 40. This is Purple Haze, and other colors I like are Lie Locks, Vampire Red, and Infra Red.
If I’m in drag, it’s a full fantasy. Drag is where I get to play. And if I’m not going anywhere, I’m playing video games in my Charizard onesie. But in my day to day, I’m definitely serving goth corporate realness. I’ll always at least wear some liner to work. And I shave my brows once a week for performance reasons, so I use this NYX gel to draw them on. It’s very hard for me to find brow products that last on naked skin. When I dress up and look my best, I feel better, and I do a better job. And the kids, they know.”