Drag queen and tailor
Antonio Méndez moved to New York City to pursue his dream of a career in fashion. He stuck it out for six years, but, fatigued by the cold and wistful for palm trees, he returned to Miami only to experience another kind of nostalgia. “I missed having the queer community I had in Brooklyn; it was so warm and welcoming,” he says, recalling his inspiration for Wigwood. This past February, Méndez celebrated the fourth anniversary of his joyous LGBTQ performance-art festival. Speaking of coming out, he says, “Growing up in a conservative, Catholic, Cuban family, when the moment came to tell my parents, it wasn’t received in the best way.”
Partly motivated by that experience, he began welcoming the community into his own home, which he dubbed the House of Shame. “It’s where queer people can express themselves in a way they couldn’t with their family,” he says. The House of Shame has become an incubator for Miami’s alternative queer culture, as well as Méndez’s own drag persona, Queef Latina, a colorful, bearded 1950s housewife. “In the past, there were a lot of venues that would turn us down when we wanted to do programming,” says Méndez. “Now they’re reaching out to us. People see that we come with a following and good ideas, in art and in the cultural development of Miami.”
Favorite Pride memory: “Skating down the parade in my in-line skates and full drag. There’s nothing quite as awesome as having friends yelling ‘Queef!’ from all directions.