In my Icon Series I highlight prominent and inspirational figures, experts in their fields, sports people and entertainers who are in the public eye that are of Filipino descent to help increase visibility so that future generations of people of Filipino descent have names and faces that they can relate to of their own heritage.Lynda Lorraine
In the first of this series I introduce Manila Luzon, a drag queen and former graphic designer of Filipino descent from the USA who first came to my attention watching Ru-Paul’s Drag Race. I myself am no stranger to a night out in London or New York involving drag queens, musical anthems and flowing beverages. But sadly, the only thing absent from these experiences were icons I could relate to on a deeper cultural level, that had an aura of somewhat familiarity of my own other than that of my European heritage, role models of my own. I was instantly and instinctively drawn to Manila’s presence. Having positive roles models of Filipino descent and a member of the LGBT+ community I could identify with was a big deal. From her 80s power rock tributes of my childhood, custom fashion pieces and all the way to her period dress to promote normal human experiences and encourage young women to be empowered by their periods; she is an important spokesperson for inclusivity, and creatively she is a visual delight watching her perform.
Like many drag queens her name is a play on words, and in this case a play on her Filipino roots. Her first name is of the capital city of the Philippines (Manila) and secondly the largest island of the archipelago (Luzon) of which her mother was born and my own family also live. Her father is an American of German and Swedish ancestry.
Fanila: noun. a fan of Manila Luzon Stanila: verb. the act of being a fan of Manila Luzon, from the abbreviation of Stanning ManilaManila Luzon
Image © The Pool