By day, David Chappius leads an inconspicuous life as a vice president of a contracting firm in Rochester, New York. By night, Chappius is enveloped in an entirely different persona: DeeDee Dubois, an unabashed socialite who likes to joke with the crowd at ROAR, a bar venue for drag performances.
Some may think that Chappius is leading a double life. But Chappius, 44, who is a cisgender gay man, says he is a performer.
"I have no intentions of being a woman," he said.
That’s the diversity within the LGBTQ+ community. Gays, lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuals, and queer people all fit under one umbrella. But there are many different shades and elements.
Growing up in rural Brockport in upstate New York, Chappius was closeted throughout his youth. It wasn’t until college that he began to feel comfortable about coming out by visiting different gay and drag clubs.
“I was really discovering myself,” Chappius said. “I was really intrigued by the idea that you can be someone else on stage.”
DeeDee Dubois is a whole different person than Chappius, who described himself as a shy kid.
“She’s over the top,” Chappius said. “The hair is big. The makeup is big.”
Chappius found a new family among drag queens. It was an underground culture when he started doing drag shows 26 years ago. Members of the community helped each other, he said.
“Doing drag helped me come out and be more myself,” he said.
Chappius is the co-owner of the ROAR club. The performers are diverse. Some are gay. Some are non-binary. Some are transgender, Chappius said.
Indeed, the LGBTQ+ community is a large, diverse population, said Sheila Healey, government relations consultant for the New Pride Agenda. The nonprofit advocating for the LGBTQ+ community has moved into helping marginalized members of the community such as people of color and transgender people, she said.
“It’s about economic justice. Good jobs and economic security,” Healey said.
The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are being celebrated in June during Pride Month. It’s to honor the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Manhattan and to honor the impact LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history and community.
Gallup finds that 7.2% of U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ+ in 2023, twice as many as compared to 2012.
While progress has been made in the 26 years since he came out as gay, Chappius said there is also more open hate toward people who are different these days.
Among the recent crimes against the LGBTQ+ community is the destruction of rainbow Pride flags this month outside the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan, where the gay rights movement started in 1969.
“I don’t understand why it’s this way,” Chappius said. “I have to be extra careful now.”
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