When you think of the blood spurting, fist-brawling world of bare-knuckle boxing, many things may come to mind. However dressing up in drag is likely not among them – unless, of course, you are referencing fighter Diego Garijo.
Garijo is an imposing figure, heavily tattooed, muscular, and not to be messed with as an opposing fighter unless you want your face rearranged. That’s typical though for competent boxers. They know how to receive and give punches. In this instance, what makes Garijo an anomaly is that he also seems gentle, with many other intriguing facets to his personality. He is a mixed martial artist, a talented painter … and at times, a bold, proud drag queen named “Lola Pistola.”
Weeks ago, Vice Magazine interviewed Garijo, and he shared a poignant perspective, drawing what he sees as parallels between boxing and drag. Throughout San Diego, Garijo – a Mexican native, is known as a no-nonsense fighter with a past prison record. However, he really comes off like a warm and creative man, who loves all people and enjoys his circle of friends, meeting new people, making art and honing his skills as a drag artist.
For Garijo, fighting is an art form through which he entertains. Becoming ‘Lola’ allows another part of himself to shine and fulfill his need for artistic expression.
Despite his love of transforming into Lola, complete with extreme heeled boots, sexy femme fashions, big wigs, and Lola’s signature “Chola-fied” makeup, Garijo, seemingly identifies as a straight man. When asked in the Vice interview how he got into drag, he explains,
“There is a photo of me as a six-year-old in which I’m wearing my mother’s bra and panties. She brought me up alone, and I had a couple of gay cousins, so I wasn’t exposed to many traditional masculine stereotypes. Maybe that’s why I can be very feminine. I think people wonder if I’m gay, but they don’t understand that femininity and sexual preference are two completely different things.”
In a more cerebral reflection on his love of drag, Garijo revels in the support he receives from the drag scene and the LGBTQ community in general. He is an ally of the LGBTQ – an assumed to be straight man, confidently performing drag and using his drag persona as a tool to confront and dismantle homophobia and stereotypes.
As he further explains to Vice,
“Martial arts show us the beauty of humans overcoming great resistance. In drag, it’s about overcoming toxic masculinity. Trans people of color, in particular, are among the most oppressed people of all. And they have the highest suicide rates. They should be supported instead of marginalized.”
Currently Diego is filming a new documentary about his life journey. His dear friend John Padilla serves as writer, director and producer of the project that they hope will find a home at Netflix. I must say I am intrigued by Garijo and I love his zero f–ks attitude when it comes to living his life on his own terms while changing hearts and minds along the way.
Read the full Vice Article with Diego Garijo