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Marvin Reyes makes up his face and prepares his shaved head for the wigs he will wear when he transforms into Akeira Davenport, a “drag queen” who challenges sexual discrimination in Nicaragua.

“I have been doing drag for 11 years,” says Reyes, head chef at a private university in Managua, commenting that he has been afraid of social acceptance and endured verbal and physical aggression.

“I do what I do with Akeira as a passion, for fun, something I like, without sometimes not having to get money because I like art, so that’s the difference between Akeira and Marvin,” says Reyes, 31, to the AFP.

A “drag queen” is a male performer who dresses in female attire.

“EVERYTHING HAPPENS FAST”

Akeira won a contest a few days ago with peers from Central American countries held in a bar in Managua.

In the contest, three participants put on makeup on the stage of the bar before an audience made up of members of the LGBTIQ+ community, while colored lights played to the rhythm of the music and a smoke machine added opacity to the place.

The attendees saw how the “queens” helped each other to adjust their clothes, put on their wigs and put on their shoes with heels or high boots to win the second edition of the Mix Imperial Central American Tropical Drag Royale contest.

“Normally drag is perfect (…), there is a door and a transform comes out (…); here there is no time for them to change between catwalks, everything happens quickly,” explains Lola Rizo, who organized the contest at Candyland by Teatro.

Each contestant had to change outfits, then a presentation and prepare the next, while attendees chanted the names of the participants.

The contestants must look good, give a good performance and know how to speak in front of the jury, adds Rizo, a 32-year-old artist and transvestite, for whom “this type of activity not only talks about sexual and gender diversity,” but also about reality. Of each country.

“I LIVE IN FEAR”

Discrimination and attacks on the streets of Nicaragua and on social networks are frequent for members of the LGBTIQ+ community.

For this reason, laws that penalize aggression are required, assures AFP Ludwika Vega, 40, president of the Nicaraguan Association of Transgenders.

According to the Observatory of human rights violations of LGBTIQ+ people, in 2022, 43 situations of discrimination and violence against trans, homosexual and lesbian women were registered in Nicaragua.

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Meanwhile, during the first semester of 2023 there were 16 verbal or physical attacks and two hate crimes that ended the lives of two trans women, according to the observatory.

The path of respect for sexual diversity has been difficult in Nicaragua.

Homosexuality was punishable since the 1990s, after the electoral defeat of the government of the Sandinista revolution (1979-1990), but after the return in 2007 of current President Daniel Ortega to power, the criminalization of homosexuality was abolished.

In 2009, a Special Attorney for Sexual Diversity was created, although a gender identity law is lacking, says Vega, who in 2019 was attacked by unknown persons who left her dying.

“I am a trans woman who lives in fear, with the anxiety that they can do something to me or attack us for not being what society wants us to be, with those patriarchal schemes and roles that they impose on us,” adds Vega, a university graduate in Marketing. .

He says that he aspires to live in a society “without rejection, without exclusion, without violence, where we can live with our family, with our partner, without anyone pointing at us and telling us that we are not well regarded, because fundamentalisms play a lot in this religious”.

“I’M THE SAME PERSON”

When Akeira leaves the stage, Marvin takes his place in the house where he lives with his mother and brothers in a crowded Managua neighborhood. There he continues with his other passion, cooking, and keeps a rabbit and two parakeets as pets.

After washing vegetables and peeling onions, Marvin explains that his performance as a “drag queen” seeks to encourage members of sexual minorities.

“We have to be one person and show that even if I have a wig or make-up, I’m always the same person,” she says.

“We don’t have to be prejudiced ourselves. Sometimes we hide ourselves and don’t make ourselves known and that hurts physically, (and) it also affects you in the heart,” he says.

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