An unapologetic voice in the modern age is hard to come across. With a constant push of perfection from the media, we often feel the need to mask our uniqueness and hide our authenticity. After appearing on Drag Race, Legal Minor, who works as an assistant for the winner of Drag Race All Stars 4, Monet X Change, has taken advantage of their platform to create weird art and serve as a sex educator through their podcast KP2 with cohost @keekee3.0 during the COVID - 19 quarantine. It's voices like Patti's that leave a deafening impact on queer youth today. We were fortunate enough to talk to Patti about his experience on TV and how he got involved in the drag community as well as the importance of sex education in high school.
"What was your childhood like growing up as a queer kid and what was your coming out story?"
I mean, I have a pretty unique experience. I think for most people that like grow up in like queer Appalachia or like the South. Um, I, uh, found theater and performing arts really early on. I started doing community theater and when I started doing community theater I had this director that was like, "Hey, we think that he's really talented. You know, um, you are having this audition in New York for replacements," - they were having replacements for the little boy in the show Ragtime and the director was like, "I think you should take him to New York or you should submit him cause I think he has a good shot." And my mom was kinda like, "okay" - not that she wasn't supportive, but she was like, you know, we're from Mississippi. Well, the director ended up submitting me without telling my mother. And it turned out that they responded and they were like, "Oh yeah, we're interested. Can you please bring him to New York?" This was when I was 12. So they took me to New York. I was like, my first time in New York, Albert was like my first New York audition. I went in and they came out and they were like, we're really interested in him, but we were really nervous about the accent. At the time I had a really, really strong Southern accent. We came out, we did the second round of auditions. We came home and then about two weeks later, my mom got a call and they wanted to hire me and needed me in Dayton, Ohio in two weeks. So when I was 12, that kind of started, and then, then I started performing
professionally for like the rest of my grade school. I got an agency in New York, so I would fly back and forth, uh, from New York to Mississippi, auditioning for shows, and I did like three national tours as a kid. And so that was a really unique experience for like a young queer person because I was fortunate enough to be like, surrounded by older adults who were positive queer influences. It was very easy in my formative years to be like, "Oh, Oh, this is, this is how I identify." And there are people like me and these feelings aren't crazy. And, and, and I didn't feel quite alone, but it was like a weird dichotomy. You know, I would be on the road surrounded by gay men and essentially in the theater, which is inherently sort of a queer culture in itself. And then when the shows would end, I would go back to public school in Mississippi. So then it would be like weird because I would go back and absolutely get made fun of Yeah. I think the only thing that like sort of helped me survive that situation is because I knew there was a larger world out there and I knew that there were people like me. So it made it the bullying a little bit easier. Cause like, you know, I had legs to stand on to be like, "fuck you." Like you, you literally have no idea what life is like outside of this bubble. But it is, it was a weird thing, you know, to be especially sort of put on a platform like as a kid when you're performing, cause all the adults are like, "Oh, you're amazing. You're super, you're special. You're talented," and then go to a public school where you're just kind of like everybody else. And you have teachers that were like the same age as like, people who were your cast members trying to like tell you what to do and all of a sudden you have like problems with authority and whatever. It was really strange.
But I came out when I was like 14. My parents were not always with me on the road. I had guardians who would take care of me. And I remember one time they came to visit - I'll never forget it - it was in Houston, Texas. I was doing the King and I at the time, and my parents came to visit and my mom and I were going to lunch. And as we were like going down the escalator from like our hotel something and that, I was like, "mom I have something to tell you. By the way, I'm gay" and she just looks at me and she goes,"I know."
It was like kind of crazy in retrospect to think of that. You'd be surprised considering that juncture, I was a very queer kid. There's like photos like this - you know what I mean? Almost all of them. I was just such a gay little kid, and my parents kind of always knew. So I had a unique situation because I didn't necessarily feel like completely overwhelmed by coming out. But at the same time it was kind of like weird because I was raised Southern Baptist. My mother comes from a Southern Baptist family. There was some like religious like conflict so there was a period of time where they were like, "we just want you to be sure." But for the most part they've always been supportive. So for that I'm very lucky.
That's very special to be able to see where you can be in the future, you know?
I think it's important and that's why I'm very happy for teenagers coming of age in today's society. I was maybe like 10 when we first got our like family computer and like AOL and all of that stuff. So I was really young, but still, there was a point in time where we're like, we didn't have the internet. The internet is such a specific phenomenon and it's crazy how rapidly it has advanced just from when I was 10 to now. I'm 30. I'm so happy for teenagers today because they have access to a community online and at their fingertips, and they have resources available to them. And not only in finding a sense of community but Drag Race has sort of brought community to aim in more mainstream level. I mean, there were still other shows that like, predated this. You know Queer as Folk, Will and Grace. There were shows that that represented queer people, but not as diverse of the demographic as Drag Race. And teenagers today have that all at their fingertips. They also have like sex education resources. Cause for the most part, like queer sex is not a part of like your normal sex ed curriculum so a lot of kids my age just kind of had to like figure it out.
That kind of transitions into our next question because you have a new podcast coming out, that talks about sex positivity and sex education. What do you wish we were kind of taught in health class and why do you think sex education in school is so important?
Well, I wish that people were taught that the truth, like, you know what I mean? So you're in LA. What is your curriculum like?
I would say 98% of our health class was "don't do drugs" and then we had one lesson to cover sex. Of course nothing on queer sex or anything besides heterosex. They were like first of all.... don't do it.... second of all use a condom. Which that doesn't necessarily apply for everyone.
Right? I mean, I could probably talk forever on the subject, which is why my cohost and I are starting a podcast. Do I think that high schools need to like go into like all of the subcategories? No, it doesn't need to be an a to Z thing. But it needs to absolutely be more in depth. And I think it starts with telling the truth. These abstinence only based programs are like so wild because that's just not going to happen. You can look at the history of teenagers the history of like development. That's just not going to happen. You also have to consider that like we live in a society where like teenagers have access to television shows that are like constantly pushing sex. So how could teenagers not be curious and not want to experiment?
I can't think back and recollect that I was ever like officially taught a sex ed course. I don't know that I was ever taught. So they barely even taught us like about heterosexual sex, let alone gay sex or any type of sex that wasn't heteronormative. Um, but I wish that they would just sort of like collect all of the facts and I wish that it was less of "these are the things that you need to do, these are the things that you don't need to do, these are the things that are scary" and it needs to be more of a conversation.
So kind of changing the subject - how did you get involved with Monet and the drag community?
So I met Bob the Drag Queen in between him filming season eight and then announcing season eight. And I wasn't even watching drag race at the time. I had friends that were like in drag, but I had never really been exposed to the drag community until I met Bob and then I started going to a bunch of shows with him. We became really good friends. The first thing that he ever called me he needed somebody who was really short to play an elf in his Deck a Ho video before drag race entered. And he was like, "I need someone to be an elf, and you're short. Can you come?" So that's the first time we started hanging out and, uh, cut to, we're in the cab going down to like Barracuda. Um. And his phone starts blowing up. He was like, I did this TV show. It's called drag race. And that was the first time I'd ever heard of drag race.
I met Monet at this time - we became friends through Bob. Bob had an assistant at the time and he had to step out for a week so I filled in for him.
When I was there, I met like Kim Chi's assistant, Naomi's assistant, and all of the assistants that were like working out on the road. And I was like, and at the time there were like, I think probably like more working than there are now. I had this realization... oh my gosh. This is a career. You can just like travel the world like with a drag queen. I had always wanted to travel and had done like every job under the sun. I had been a concierge. I mean like, you name it, I had done it. So one day I had a conversation with Bob and I was like "Hey, if you hear of anyone that needs an assistant, like please let me know." This was before Monet was on Drag Race. Peppermint needed an assistant. So I started assisting peppermint for a little bit until she got a Broadway show, which put her in New York. And really the main reason I was doing it was to travel and stuff like that so I left peppermint which happened to coincide with Monet just coming back from season 10. I talked to her and said "Hey, well we're friends. You know, I've already done this. I already know what you're up against and what to expect. Would you want to work together?" So two years later, here we are at an episode of all stars later.
That's so serendipitous. So what was your experience like on all stars? After getting your make-over you really seem to connect with the drag character more than a lot of the other make-over contestants did. So would you see yourself pursuing drag?
Um, in the words of Justin Bieber, never say never. I mean, it was a really insane experience after working with Peppermint and knowing Bob and working with Monet. I've known several girls who've talked about their experience, but I never been in the middle of it. So what was crazy was to actually be in the middle of the entire machine, you know? And it was such a surreal experience. I was so nervous because you go in and at first you're hyper aware that you're being filmed from every angle. Producers are always listening. You're wearing a mic. And they're filming everything. They're making sure that they capture like as much as much stuff as possible. So you're very hyper-aware for a bit that the cameras are rolling and everything's moving so quickly that you just don't process that you're like in the middle of making something that you hope at the end of the day people connect with or are going to enjoy.
So you'll start talking about something in midway through you talking about something, you're like, Oh my God, everyone in the world is gonna hear me talking. Like shaving my eyebrows off for example. Honestly, that wasn't a gag to get camera time or to do something crazy. I looked at Monet and she said she was going to have to glue my eyebrows down. I had already been working for her and I knew she didn't have eyebrows. So my first thought was "well, you don't work with eyebrows, why don't I just shave my eyebrows off?" That was the easiest solution and I was there to help her so I could go without my eyebrows for a little bit.
I don't think it actually like hit me that I was doing RuPaul's Drag Race until I was about to walk the main stage. Not even during the challenge. I had this moment where I got really nervous because the runway is the thing that everybody waits for and is going to be judging. It's going to be reposted to hundreds of fan accounts and be replayed over and over again. This is the thing that America waits for. That reveal moment. So that was really scary but it was also so cool to be there for her and support her and be in on the machine for a little bit. It's one of the best experiences of my life. And not only was I so grateful to be a part of the show, I got to be part of the winning team which was just really exciting and special. And now people occasionally repost or it will come up and I just remember I'm a part of this iconic TV show, even if it was just a teeny tiny fraction of it. But I'm still there.
So you're an outspoken advocate for the queer community, and you always make it a priority to change the conversation and champion queer individuals. Why is it so important for us to support the community right now, during the pandemic?
Well, I mean, I think it's always important to support queer people in general, but especially during a situation like this. A lot of the queer people that I associate with are all creative. We're all entertainers and performers. This pandemic specifically like right now, has been really hard on us because we've lost our entire industry. Not a single queen is working. And when the queens aren't working, that means I don't have a job. There's literally nothing that I can even do for her. I mean, in my mind, people can agree with us, but in my mind, queer people are responsible for like 95% of the color that exist in this world. Your entertainment, your fashion. You name it, and a queer person is fucking touched it. So you have to support us during this time or else you're looking at a really boring world on the other side if none of us can afford to survive. And not only that, I advocate for always helping marginalized people. Anybody that doesn't have like access to resources. It's not even just queer people specifically, but there are a lot of people suffering in this situation because of the country's current political climate and where we stand. Everyone is feeling it. I do think that because a large portion of us in the queer community are creatives so I do think that most of our industries have suffered.
Absolutely. That's why we're doing this, you know? Because. Drag in the queer community have given so much to us.
I just want to highlight that not only do we have to look out for our queer community as a whole but we definitely need to look out for queer and trans youth in a time like this. A lot of us fortunately, people like myself, are able and lucky to have a roof over our heads. I'm making it work. But we have to remember that there are young queer people out there who can't that have disassociated from there families and don't have anyone to support them during this time. And then you have to consider the queer people that need support that ARE there with their families but are trapped with family members that don't support them. Yes, everybody's going through a hard time, but aside from those in abusive situations it's a little more complicated for queer people, queer people of color. You know ESPECIALLY people of color. These times are where marginalized people feel it the most.
To wrap this up, how do you think we can just kind of continue to support out of work drag artists during this time?
I mean, you can buy their merch if you have access to resources and you have money to spend. Support their online shows. Tip them even if they don't have an online show. Tip your favorite queen. These are ways that we can be supportive. Even if you don't have the access to the money or the resources to be able to financially purchase a lot of these things you can repost it, share their information, share their handle. These are ways that we can support people even if you don't have the financial resources to do so. Well I guess we've reached the end. Thank you so much for talking to us.
Thank you too! Good luck with your project. We'll keep in touch. It's been an honor to be able to speak to you guys, thank you so much for asking me to be a part of it. Thank you so much! Bye!
Bye! Take care!