In the summer of 2015, a teenager named Brendan traveled with his family on a vacation to Los Angeles, where he says in a Reddit post that he was determined to "find something draggy to do" — as drag had been his escape in small town Pennsylvania.
There, he met RuPaul's Drag Race judge Michelle Visage — a meeting that he says "saved my life."
At time time, he wrote, he had been struggling with his health and body image, and had a father who "had never been fully supportive of my sexuality or my love of drag."
"I would spend money to go to shows all across the tristate area and he felt like it was a waste," he wrote. "He had seen the show in his peripheral before but never bothered looking at it for more than a few seconds. Combine that with his brothers and my grandfather trying to convince him to disown me and ignore my identity and I was in a very vulnerable place. I didn't know what was going to happen to our relationship or my future."
When the opportunity came to attend a Drag Race meet and greet event in the L.A. RuPaul pop up shop, Brendon told his dad that they were just going to "a cool candy store" (which wasn't exactly a lie because it was inside a candy shop.)
"My jaw dropped when I approached the empty pop up shop," he wrote. "There was Michelle, just standing there, talking to the owner. She had a stack of head shots, but nobody was there to get one signed just yet. Being the excitable tweeny little gay I was, I shrieked and ran over to hug her."
Visage, for her part, was graciously accommodating — "We talked for 20 minutes, one on one," Brendon wrote. "She was sympathetic, but gave me tough love, like a mother would. She gave me advice on everything, just the two of us, in the back of this tourist trap candy store in Hollywood."
When Brendon's dad came up to them, Visage remained just as friendly — and ended up helping to bring the two closer together.
"She told him what a great son he had, how ambitious I am, how she knows how we've struggled and she's gone through the same stuff with her kids," he wrote. "And she connected with my family and gave us a really timeless piece of advice, that while cliche, saved us: 'Do you. Anytime, anywhere. Let him do him, dad. Anytime, anywhere. He'll thrive if you do.'"
That moment, Brendon said, was one he'd never forget.
"This moment marked a shift in my dad's attitude toward me and my identity — he found Michelle to be so eloquent and asked me if they talked about this stuff on drag race," he wrote. "He was intrigued. So my mom, my dad, and I all started watching together every single week. We've been to shows together now."
Read these stories next: