The Drag Queen of the North’s journey towards self-discovery

Photographs courtesy of Mx Kiki Krunch mural in SM City Baguio featuring drag performer Mx Kiki Krunch.

Every year, once 1 June arrives, colorful torrents of initiatives honoring the LGBTQ+ community start popping up — parades would hit cities around the world, rainbows would appear in ads for several brands and products, and celebratory messages would burst in the online sphere.

These initiatives are increasing shows of support for the community. But more than the marketing boost it provides for many brands and influencers, LGBTQ+ Pride Month aims to propel the community towards being recognized as equal members of society through acknowledgement of the many feats they have accomplished, among many others.

And they are not easy feats, especially for those who have struggled through their long journey towards self-discovery. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community have to endure moments of self-doubts, judgments from their own societies, as well as conflicts with what they are taught to believe in.

For Francis Siapno Lopez, a famous drag and performance artist from Baguio City, his path toward accepting his identity was undeniably rough.

Mx Kiki Krunch underwent personal crisis until he discovered drag.

Brewing inner crisis

Known as Mx Kiki Krunch, Lopez has been a fierce advocate of the community for several years already. For one, he is among the founders of 23 Sampaguita Artists Collective, a heritage-focused group that helps artists from the LGBTQ+ as well as indigenous communities. He also founded the Northern Luzon Pride, which organized the activities in Baguio City for this year’s Pride Month.

Lopez is also the convenor of Salakniban Support Group, a well-known support group in Baguio for persons living with HIV (PLHIV). Currently, he works as a paralegal in the Library Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps PLHIV deal with stigma and discrimination.

However, before all these accomplishments that helped drive the LGBTQ+ advocacy in the country, he underwent a lot of internal conflicts and discriminations, which he said deeply affected his mental health.

“There were a lot of questions going on in my mind. I remember vividly when I was in fourth grade, my interests are different with that of the other boys in school. I would always choose to play with the girls instead of the boys. It was not easy because the school and the church taught me that there are only two genders: male and female. We were also taught that boys and girls should only act a certain way,” he said.

It was about 10 years ago when he decided to come out as he was getting fed up with all the rumors in his workplace that it started to affect him personally. “It was not the ideal situation to be in, but I felt relieved when I came out. I no longer need to explain my identity to other people,” he said.

Photograph courtesy of proudrad
Mx Kiki Krunch is the most known drag performer in Baguio City.

The power of drag

According to Lopez, the one thing that helped him survive his painful process towards self-discovery is drag, which he said made him truly see his beauty within.

“I started doing drag in 2019. It was a bittersweet turning point in my life. My ex-fiancé, a cisgender woman with whom I had a relationship for five years, broke up with me that same year. After months of doing soul searching and watching a lot of gay movies and series, I discovered the art of drag. It saved me from my miseries, depression and suicidal thoughts,” he revealed.

Now, three years after discovering the art, Lopez is now the most well-known drag artist in Baguio and in norther Philippines, as Mx Kiki Krunch. Dubbed as “Drag Queen of the North,” Lopez has attained a lot of media and online exposures, which she uses to further advocate about the community.

On raising awareness

This year’s Pride Month focuses on the 50 years of fighting for the betterment of the long marginalized group, putting a spotlight on the positive contributions of the community and the developments made to improve their well-being.

In the Philippines, this year’s Pride celebration is historically huge, as celebrations took place in key cities from north to south of the country.

This is the time, Lopez said, to be more proactive in advocating for equality not only for the LGBTQ+ people, but also for all members of the society regardless of their ethnicity, gender and preferences—a gateway towards promoting peace and tolerance across all types of individuals.

“I am happy and fortunate enough that Baguio City, under the leadership of Mayor Magalong, where I am currently residing, has laws protecting the LGBTQ+ community. Nonetheless, a national law should still be passed so that all members of the LGBTQ+ community could live peacefully without the fear of being discriminated, hurt or worse, killed,” he said

“Expressing our sentiments on social media is one thing, but our advocacy does not stop at being a keyboard warrior. Do not get tired of working hand in hand with other members of our community in our pursuit of justice and equality. Things will eventually get better. We just have to believe in our cause and in our movement,” he added.

For those who are still struggling with their identities, Lopez advised them not to be afraid to explore and to be pressured to come out, as well as assured them that various initiatives are being taken to make them feel safe to live their most authentic selves.

“That is your own journey, so might as well make the most out of it. It will not be easy when you come out, but know that you have a loving community who will warmly welcome you. Also, rest assured though that there are a lot of us who are very keen on pushing our legislators to pass a law that will protect all the gays in our country,” he said.


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