Azizul Mahathir is better known by his persona Vanda Miss Joaquim, a veteran in the local drag queen scene who’s often spotted performing at gay-friendly hotspot Tantric Bar.
But as sassy and strong the alternative persona is, things weren’t that easy back then when Azizul was just starting out. A picture of him donning a skirt was blown up on Malay-language newspaper Berita Harian, and that was the first time his mother knew about (and vehemently disapproved) his other life. It’s been 10 years since Azizul built a career as a drag queen in Singapore, and according to this short documentary done by Singapore Polytechnic media students, the relationship between him and his mother remains strong, albeit fractured. The mother wishes that her son could have chosen a different career, while the son wishes that his mother simply accepts him for who he is.
According to Azizul, the video prompted both support and criticism — the latter of which revolves around his life choices going against his Muslim beliefs. “I accept all advice and aspersions with an open mind. But for those who’re just saying things without benefit or being intentionally hurtful, wild dogs are nobler than you are.”