Gender identity and drag performance: A personal video essay

Abby Parmelee, Thomas Ilalaole and Maxine Herndon
Abby Parmelee, Thomas Ilalaole and Maxine Herndon

By Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports

For each queer person, our experiences and identities are as different and unique as we are. And each of us has a story about how we came to be who we are.

Abby Parmelee, Maxine Herndon and I all discovered our gender identities through the power and art of drag performance.

In this video essay, we discuss how we stand in solidarity with each other, and also with the many others who encompass the LGBTQ+ community.


Age: 20
Born & raised: Peoria, Ill.
Gender identity: transgender
Pronouns: she/her/hers


Age: 25
Born: Vallejo, Calif.
Raised: Kailua, Hawaii
Gender identity: non-binary
Pronouns: she/her/hers


Age: 23
Born: St. Petersburg, Russia
Raised: St. Louis
Gender identity: trans non-binary
Pronouns: they/them/theirs

Photo at top: Abby Parmelee, Thomas Ilalaole and Maxine Herndon. (Thomas Ilalaole/MEDILL)