I first met Vanessa when she won the Miss Louisiana Leatherette in 2016, and to be honest I didn't know anything about her. I had never even heard her name before, which wasn't strange since I'm into the drag scene. But what I found unique about her was that she didn't lip sync to any music, but instead played an actual instrument. I had no idea that Vanessa was "straight", and I mean as in straight, married with children and grandchildren. This took me by surprise, and only because in my mind you had to be gay or Trans to be a drag performer.
It came as no surprise that she would become Ms. New Orleans Pride 2016; I remember her platform was unity in the LGBT community, and she had a real passion about being a part of the community. Working to understand and somehow bring at times a fractured community together As a gay man I can tell you it's hard, but as someone who is straight it would be even harder. It takes a lot of courage to be yourself and at the same time want to affect change in the LGBT community.
How does someone who is straight transform themselves in drag? Vanessa explained that for her "it's me being in touch with my feminine side of who I am and accepting that part of myself" and explained that it's a complete transformation from Juan to Vanessa. That every aspect of becoming Vanessa is a total transformation, which she must understand and feel 100%; from how she dresses, acts, and voice, it all must be there. She is complete.
I have to admire Vanessa, to know that there are people in the LGBT community that would never accept her or hold some resentment towards her accomplishments. Recently she has begun to accept herself and to live her life as she see fit and not to conform to what society say she has to be or do. I consider myself lucky to count Vanessa as a friends. I find her down-to-earth, direct and very open about her life, and for that I have to give her respect.
You can see Vanessa perform Tacos, Tequila and Tiaras at Buffa's Lounge and Restaurant every Tuesday located at 1001 Esplanade Avenue. I found it interesting as well that Buffa's mostly straight establishment; with that in mind Vanessa takes the opportunity to take questions and inform the community about drag.