A Russian drag queen in Eindhoven

He lives in Eindhoven and enjoys performing as a drag queen on weekends under the stage name Okla

With his blue hair, glitter suit, and mega eyelashes, Mika (32) is unmissable. He lives in Eindhoven and enjoys performing as a drag queen on weekends under the stage name Okla. He is originally from Russia, but it is too dangerous for him there. “I always did it behind closed doors.”

A drag queen dresses up as an extravagant version of the opposite sex. Mika started this because it helps him deal with his past. “I grew up in a homophobic environment. With drag, I get more in touch with my emotions from that side of me,” he says.


Until he was 21, Mika lived in Siberia. “In Russia, it was not necessarily safe to express yourself. You can do whatever you want in your own home or bedroom, but as soon as you step onto the street, I think there is always a risk,” he says. “The least bad thing that can happen is that people look at you strangely, and the worst thing is that you get beaten up or something.” Fortunately, the latter has never happened to him, but people have tried. For example, classmates once harassed him because he had an eyebrow piercing.


For the queer community, the situation in Russia has only worsened. There is now a law that considers the group as extremist and terrorist. “The fact that you can’t even talk about it freely is terrible,” says Mika. “That was allowed in my time, so I can’t imagine how people feel now.” Most of the friends and acquaintances he knew there had left the country.

His family still lives there, but Mika has no plans to visit them anytime soon. “There is a good chance that I will be drafted into the army, so I may never go back.”


He has now lived in Eindhoven for nine years. Yet he does not always feel safe here, either. “Whenever I have a drag show, I always share my location so people know where I am. I also only go through streets that are lit. Sometimes, people shout something negative like ‘gay’, or they whistle at me. I’m trying to turn all this negativity into positivity.” Mika hopes that the entire queer community will become even more visible. In any case, he has no intention of quitting drag any time soon.

Source: Studio040

Translate: Ayşenur Kuran 


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