I Was Supposed To Become A Mormon Missionary. I Became A TikTok-Famous Drag Star Instead.

Elle/December 23, 2019

By Rose Minutaglio

Mariah Carey was my secret obsession growing up. Secret, because, in my house boys were expected to love Boy Scouts and basketball, not ‘90s pop stars. But every time my sister blasted “Fantasy" from her bedroom, I grabbed the nearest hairbrush and lip synced in front of the mirror. Mariah's music was a masterclass in self-love. I vowed, one day, to be as unapologetically myself as her.

The small Mormon town in Utah where I'm from didn't exactly afford me the opportunity. We lived and breathed all things Latter-day Saints. Books of Mormon sat on every shelf in our house. A Joseph Smith portrait hung above our fireplace. My piggybank was stuffed to the brim with savings for my two-year mission trip, which Mormons take at the age of 18 to proselytize people all over the world.

I ended up not going, and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Instead, I met my now-husband and discovered the beautiful, chaotic world of drag. Now, I no longer have to hide my hide Mariah Carey lip-syncs. I do it for my over two million TikTok followers.

Growing up Mormon meant my entire life was mapped out from birth: become a missionary, marry a Mormon woman, and live everyday as a spirit-child of God. I was 15 years old the first time I heard the word "gay."A friend told me his neighbors were two men in a romantic relationship. “Can two men really be in love?” I later asked my Bishop, who said no, of course not. "Homosexuality," he told me, "is an obstacle to be overcome, like a porn or gambling addiction."

In college, I landed a role in the school's stage adaption of Little Women. One day after rehearsals, the boy playing Friedrich Bhaer came out to me. It woke me up to the fact that I was gay, too. For weeks, I wondered what to do about it. I cried and prayed, and then cried some more. At night, I clutched my Book of Mormon and weighed the pros and cons: Accept myself and risk being disowned by family? Or stay Mormon and hide my sexuality forever?

Truth won out in the end: I cancelled my upcoming mission trip, turned in my Book of Mormon, and officially left the Church. There are so many beautiful aspects about the religion that I admire, but I could no longer relate to a group that asked me to be someone I wasn't.

It was a hard decision, but telling my parents was even harder. They said I could no longer find salvation in the afterlife and tried convinced me that I wasn't gay. I wish only the best for them, but after coming out, I needed people in my life to encourage and love me.

I found that at the gym, of all places. In between squats, I noticed a cute blonde-haired boy from across the floor. Zach was a professional dancer, and we immediately bonded over a shared love of RuPaul's Drag Race, Disney princesses, and, of course, Mariah Carey. Four years later, we said "I do" in Monterrey, California surrounded by our closest friends.

Our first foray into drag was on Musical.ly doing makeup tutorials. Zach adopted the persona "Tink" in honor of his favorite Disney character. I went by "Minnie," a tribute to mine. Within a few months, we racked up 500,000 followers. When TikTok bought Musical.ly last year, we brought our act to the new platform, where we have over 2.4 million followers. We make all kinds of videos, from parodies to lip syncs to tutorials. We work with makeup or wig companies to promote products and we even did a campaign with the CW.

Our goal has always been to make drag more accessible to a younger audience. We want kids to realize that it's not a big deal to be different and that, in fact, it's actually great. We want our viewers to know it's okay to be your truest, most authentic self.

Right now, Zach works as a professional ballet dancer and my day job is at an elementary school. We do live drag performances in San Francisco, where we live. I know that my family has seen our videos, but they've never talked to me about it.

It's hard, because you want your family to support you and love you no matter what. But at the same time, I'm done worrying about what people are thinking about me or whether I make them uncomfortable just by being myself. As Mariah says in "Can't Take That Away": "I will not allow anyone to succeed hanging clouds over me."

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