“If I had to fit in a box, I would be a drag king; but the point is that I don’t, and I don’t want to choose.”
Sheila the Genderfuck (he/they) is an amateur, Brown drag performer based in Lawrence. Sheila is performed by KU student Sindhuja Manda.
Manda, who identifies as non-binary, has used their drag persona to help them better understand their gender.
“I’ve only recently realized that I kind of want to lean more into like my masculine side,” Manda said. “I think drag really helps me do that.”
Manda still likes to incorporate feminine elements in their drag too.
“Whenever I wear [feminine] Indian clothing as well as also being masculine, it just feels like I’m kind of… like just like me,” Manda said.
Manda was first inspired to do drag by a peer in OSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In June of last year, Sheila made his first appearance at Jazz House’s open drag night where he was supported by his screaming friends.
“It was just really sweet,” Manda said. “It was also very liberating because I just like busted my tits out at the end of it.”
Out of drag, Manda is a part of KU’s Bollywood fusion dance team, Jeeva. They incorporate that style of dance in their performances.
The drag community has been rapidly growing, but representation of the community lacks diversity in gender and in race, too.
“A lot of my qualms from the [local] drag scene come with it being so white and binary,” Manda said. “I wish there were more spaces for performers who are neither drag kings nor drag queens, like me.”
Jazzhaus is a nightclub located on Massachusetts Street and it is the only venue in town to regularly host drag events. It is also one of the few spaces for the queer community in Lawrence.
Although, according to Manda, the space is only safe for the white community.
“I’ve seen some of the hosts wearing dreads,” Manda said. “I’ve seen a performer have a blue lives matter bag backstage, while Jazzhaus says ‘Black Lives Matter’ before every event. All of these are basic, basic things that should not be done and add harm to a queer environment.”
Sheila performed at the Kansas Drag Showcase this past weekend and hopes to take their drag to Kansas City.
“In the future, I want to incorporate more smooth moves into my dancing,” said Manda. “I have definitely looked into male stripper moves.”