It may seem like the world of MMA fighting and the world of drag are in two completely different solar systems. One is all about how strong you are, your ability to literally take gut punches and withstand physical attacks. The other is about cultivating your art and allowing your inner self to shine through. But dig a little deeper and you see that both are all about being the fiercest version of yourself.
One man seems to have figured that out long before all of us, as he’s been straddling both worlds for years as renowned MMA fighter Diego Garijo in the ring and as fierce drag queen Lola by night.
Diego Garijo is the straight, drag ally we need right now.
Diego Garijo is an imposing figure in the ring. He’s 41-years-old and covered in tattoos with a recorded seven victories in the ring before suffering a detached retina and having to put the sport on hold. But he’s since come back with a vengeance and got into bare-knuckle boxing.
For Garijo, fighting is an art form through which he entertains. Becoming ‘Lola Pistola’ allows another part of himself to shine and fulfill his need for artistic expression.
Garijo says that drag and MMA have more in common than we might think.
While being a drag queen may seem a world away from being an MMA fighter, Garijo has expressed his belief that the two pastimes actually work well together.
In an interview with VICE, 41-year-old Garijo said that he gets ‘a lot of love from people in the drag scene, as well as the trans and gay communities.’ He stressed that his support doesn’t stop there, as Lola is also loved by ‘big tough fighters’.
Garijo commented: ‘Maybe they are also hiding an element of themselves that they would like to bring out more.’
His story as an immigrant has also played a major part in his creativity and art forms.
Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, Garijo was smuggled into the US as a child. And as a youth, spent many of his years serving time in prison, which is where he got into fighting.
As for getting into drag; Garijo says that really began when he was a child, with a photo of him as a six-year-old wearing his mother’s underwear. He was brought up without a father and says he had a couple of gay cousins, so he ‘wasn’t exposed to many traditional masculine stereotypes.’
He continued: ‘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.’
After being bullied as a child he has found that ‘art and fighting’ offer an outlet to the trauma he carries with him, and both through fighting and creating ‘a personality that has no shame’, he feels is able to ‘take a step forward in combat when others would take a step back.’
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.
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