With a goal of raising $100, eight-year-old Keegan made bracelets made of soda tabs and rubber bands to sell to family and friends. But in December he surpassed his goal and was able to make a $180 cash donation to Out Youth, a support organization for LGBTQ youth. For Kathryn Gonzales, Out Youth operations and program director, Keegan’s donation was especially meaningful. He’s a young drag queen.
Keegan started showing an interest in dresses at age four. To support his interest, his parents began to show him pictures of boys and men in dresses as well as drag queens. Once he saw drag queens, he was hooked. He tried full drag at seven when he went to the Austin International Drag Festival, and that solidified that drag was one of his passions.
The last year has been spent finding him fairy drag mothers, all ages drag shows and even a teen babysitter who also does drag to give him opportunities to learn. He even got to do his first drag performance as Kween Keekee at the Austin International Drag Festival in November 2018. Keegan is considered gender creative, meaning he identifies as male but often has female gender expression, and drag has been a fun, creative way that he gets to express that feminine side of himself.
“I wanted to raise money to be helpful and because it’s nice,” Keegan said. “I decided to donate to Out Youth because they support people like me and I like raising money for the LGBTQIA community to support drag kids like me.”
Gonzales says Out Youth was founded to serve kids aged 12-14 who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual or allied. “Keegan’s desire to be involved reiterated that fact that younger and younger kids need support,” she said. “We are now asking ourselves how we can provide for LGBTQIA kids in ways that are developmentally appropriate, like starting a kid’s drag community.”
For nearly 30 years, Out Youth has served youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities. “It has been a joy and honor to do this work for 15 years, to watch our kids finally be able to breathe again,” said Gonzales. “They walk through life holding their breath wondering who is going to attack them next. Through our work they are able to sit and breathe and be themselves. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Gonzales adds that Keegan’s donation made her more optimistic about the future. “To me, Keegan’s donation shows that it doesn’t matter the age of a person, it is easy to recognize the value of supporting LGBTQIA youth,” she said. “Knowing that there are kids out there like Keegan, who want to serve and be unapologetically themselves, bodes well for the future.”
Photos contributed by Keegan and Out Youth
NOTE: A version of this article also appeared in the Austin American-Statesman.