How Brooklyn-based drag queen Serena Tea found her confidence

Behind the Drag aims to showcase the off-stage lives of some of America's most talented drag queens. The intimate series gives us the opportunity to meet the people behind our favorite over-the-top drag queens. Come back every Friday this summer to meet someone new!

Anderson Lopez went to his first drag show when he was 19 years old and he remembers being in awe of the queens' confident performances. However, he knew he had that same confidence within himself, so a week later, he returned to perform on his own.

Since then, he's hit the drag ballroom scene as Serena Tea. But this isn't your typical ballroom—it's an underground LGBTQ+ scene where contestants express their creativity and compete for trophies or prizes by performing or "walking" on a runway.

"You basically just get out and serve your fantasy, and it can look like whatever you want it to," Lopez said.

"A huge part of the ballroom scene are these people coming together that come from nothing to showcase themselves in this light where they can be elevated and they can be seen because in a community that accepts them, because the world doesn't," he explained further.

The ballroom scene was something that Lopez said he was always interested in, and as he got more into it, he started incorporating vogueing into his performances. And like many other drag queens, he also makes all of his own outfits, focusing on the silhouette first, then cutting up fabric to fit his body and adding trimming or stones to catch the light.

Lopez said he rides his bike everywhere, including in full drag to his shows. "Literally everybody is looking at me, but it's fine," he said. However, he revealed he wasn't always this confident, but as he started to play around with his "queer gender expression," he gradually came into his look, wearing shorter crop tops, higher heels and bigger earrings. 

"People would look at me and I would get so insecure. But I would remember that I'm living in my life, and that's the thing, is it's my life and not their's. So I have no desire or need to worry about what they're doing, because I'm here looking like a f*cking bad b*tch and they're going to remember me and I'm not going to remember them." he said.

When it comes to his performances, he hopes the audience can have fun and check out of reality for a minute, as he does. 

"When I'm on a stage, I have no idea what's going on in my head. I kind of just serve it as much as I can and not worry about anything else that's going on around me. And I just feel the music, I listen to the beats, I don't listen to my thoughts, I listen to my body, I listen to my movements," he admits. "What I do, you're not going to see anybody else do, because it's my story, it's my performance, it's the way I'm expressing myself." 

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