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He sits on the living room couch and puts on the first touch of makeup in preparation for the night. There's a huge TV in front of the couch, and to the right, the wall is made up entirely of mirrors.
Bailón moves into the kitchen, where the walls are deep red. He says he began preparing earlier in the day; he's already shaved his legs. Behind him, a huge image of the Virgin of Guadalupe hangs on the wall, surrounded by candles and smaller images of the Last Supper and Jesus Christ. His parents are not around.
His bedroom is fairly small. About 20 women's shoeboxes are stacked next to a wall. Next to his closet hangs an image of Jesus.
Tonight, Bailón will perform at a friend's Halloween party as Melissa, his drag persona. It's 9:30 p.m. and Bailón stares at himself in the mirror, ready to finish his makeup. Next to him is a leopard-print makeup case. Clothes are spilling out of a bag on the floor, where he has put some dresses, heels, and other clothes for the night.
Bailón is still looking at himself in the mirror. He says he forgot to shave his face and Melissa cannot be a barbona (bearded lady), so he runs to the bathroom and gets his electric shaver.
While he shaves, the conversation turns to wigs. He has more than 20, he says, and by now has lost count of how many dresses he owns. Once he's done, he gets rid of his T-shirt and looks at his chest in the mirror. He starts mixing foundation and applies it to his face.
"You have to make sure you keep your character," he says. "As soon as the heels are on, you're a completely different person. Melissa, for example, has no shame."
Bailón finishes with the foundation, laughs loudly and says he now looks like a mime. He continues with the process and talks about Melissa. He's learned so much through her, he says.
Melissa appeared two years ago when QUIP organized a fundraiser at Zarape, a now-defunct Hispanic gay club in Phoenix. The owners liked Melissa so much, they offered Bailón a job there. For months, Melissa was on stage every other Friday.
Bailón says that although growing up, he did not even know what drag meant, he remembers being a little boy and imitating popular Mexican singer Gloria Trevi. After that, he says he tried to not think about it much, but once he was out to the world and the opportunity presented itself, he knew we could not resist.
"When I had to find an idea for a fundraiser, I immediately thought of it," he says. "I thought of it because I knew how much fun people have at them. I wanted to be part of that."
Bailón puts on fake eyelashes and smiles. "This is Melissa coming out!" he says.
By now, Bailón has put on a black bra and decides the room needs some music. A live video of Beyoncé performing "Grown Woman" plays on TV, and Bailón moves to the rhythm as he applies mascara.
The next video is Macklemore's "Same Love." Now Bailón is excited. He says it might just be his favorite song, and he starts singing. "And I can't change even if I tried," he sings, eyeliner in hand.
After that, the TV plays two videos about DREAMers: Operation Butterfly and The Dream Is Now. Bailón says solemnly, "Now, this is heavy."
Long after the videos have ended and Bailón has finally painted his lips (he hates lipstick, he says) he holds a blond wig and brushes it carefully. He puts it on and adjusts it, looking at himself in the mirror.
He takes it off and tries another one. This one is black and resembles a small Afro. He takes it off and returns to the blond one.
"And that's Melissa," he says. "The bigger the hair, the better the woman."
For now, Bailón decides on shorts, heels, and a black top. He will change into his performance outfit at the party.
Bailón makes it to the party at 11:40. The house is packed and full of Halloween decorations. Salsa and cumbia play on the patio and people inside are doing karaoke. Everybody is wearing a costume, so nobody pays attention to Bailón and his friend, Damian Lorenzo.
Bailón goes upstairs and changes into his witch costume. Lorenzo, who will be known as Monica for the night, is already wearing hers. Daniel Garcia, the party's host, will play the third witch.
Monica used to perform with Bailón at Zarape. She says she only ever performs when Bailón is on stage with her.
"Since we started all this together I've seen him grown and he's seen me grow," she says. "The stage is a comfort zone."
The planned performance is Hocus Pocus' "I Put a Spell on You."
Garcia is one of the co-founders of AZQUIP and tonight is the first time he has ever performed drag. He says he was nervous, but felt better to know that Bailón was there with him.
I hope AZ loses the super bowl 2015 in Glendale,
IS Super bowl a BUSINESS? are football players coming out of the closet?
Take the super bowl somewhere else, AZ is too small minded , too back words.
They will never be progressive .
What does he want? a medal? Oh just a free pass to citizenship and all the benefits he didn't earn. Sale!
Just read the piece today, if you re going to make negative comments please go somewhere else, I just can't imagine the hardship of going through all this, as a parent and a Hispanic myself I was very touched with this story, it's ridiculous to think about deportation when this is his home country, he didn't choose to come here, very easy to turn your head the other way but it is harder when you put a face in the issue, I really hope there's a positive outcome for Dagoberto, I really wish him the best. Great article!
I am sick of the intolerance and hatred that is perpetrated in Arizona by religious causes anchored in our legislature. It's time that we all got together and took care of the bullies on the playground...
Don't forget kiddies, you can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ. Vote democrat the first chance you get for a tolerant Arizona.
WELL IF YOU WOULD GET OFF THE COMPUTER EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE AND GO TO WORK...THEIRE WOULD 'NT BE A NEED TOO FILL YOUR JOB NOW WOULD THEIR.
First, Mexico send us the illegals who take their checks and send them to Mexico.
Now, they send us their queers too.
Thanks, and God Bless. I know some pretty awful hetros, why are they any better than the alternative lifers? Let everyone not hurt anyone, but maintain law and order, period!
There are a lot of sickos on this site. Its the ILLEGAL part that's the crime, dummies. What do you care what he does behind doors, sickos!
seriously? undocumented is enough for me, ship it home. "come out twice?" I'd settle for get out, once.
"My name is Dagoberto Bailón, and today I choose to come out of the closet as an undocumented man and a gay man."
Turn the dogs loose.
"... if you re going to make negative comments please go somewhere else..." Golly Pop, in your bigoted world, can people only make comments that YOU agree with?
@dkessler4 In the meantime, kiddies, if you're feeling a little ashamed of the fact that your lawless parents smuggled you across the border a good remedy for your woes would be to man up and return to home. That way NO ONE can accuse you of being an document-challenged euphemism!
@mrh0202201091 You must have gone to school in Arizona. You don't know where the caps lock is and you can't spell...
@mrh0202201091 Yep that is funny how they can take the spotlight off what they themselves are doing.And i thought freedom of the press in the constitution meant fair and balanced coverage. Not side with one segment of the community over the other.
@jerseypeer everybody is entitled to their own lifestyle, as long as it doesnt hurt anyone. it may not be the lifestyle for me, but then again my lifestyle isnt what they prefer either. good for you for taking the high road
A six-year old is not a six-year old forever. Hopefully that child matures a little as the years go by and realizes that his parents broke the law to misappropriate a life in America that was meant for someone else - someone with ethics, skills and respect.
@lisalisanoneya @coachwkr1 The Reality is. That many migrants are threatened to be killed if They do not comply with the demands of kidnappers.And unfortunately sometimes that means torture for them and there Familys.WHILE MANY HERE ARE LAUGHING AND THINKING THIS IS A GAME. IT is not a game to those that know the truth.
@dkessler4 And you can't spam repeatedly without looking as pathetic as you do dkessler...
@mrh0202201091 Anybody that wants to can stop the hatred and intolerance in the legislature in Arizona that characterizes mrh0202201091. Get all the kids together and lets thump the bullies.
Remember you can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ. Vote democratic for a more tolerant Arizona where everyone including our legislature and the attorney general have to obey the law.