Model & Performer Glorious Luna Talks Gender Bending, Mothering, & Ballroom Shenanigans

It's the art-deco realness for me.
It's the art-deco realness for me.L: DeeDeePls, R: Eeshani Mitra

Glorious Luna has been serving face ever since the dawn of their memory. A distinguished poseur and drag savant, their leonine strut has sashayed away from the binary coded bias of homegrown couture into the next generation where queer people demand to be taken seriously. Shapeshifting as a model, performer and tastemaker, Luna's world is a Thierry Mugler’s Les Chimères fall collection come to life. “I love these big head gears with feathers and these outrageous clothes and rhinestones in my face,” Luna insists their love for femininity does not necessarily make them a woman, and so gender remains an ever-evolving concept for them. The covers of Harper's Bazaar India, Vogue, and Femina are not enough to satiate the frustration they have always felt with the system and so Luna has also dipped their feet into talent management and the glittering subculture of the ballroom scene.

From smearing on their mother’s makeup at the age of six to getting bullied at school, Luna confides that childhood for them was pretty normal, or “as normal as queer people from India” are accustomed to. Masquerading under the guise of Suruj Rajkhowa, their assigned name at birth, Luna lived the performed experience of masculinity for 17 years until they left their Assamese hometown for architecture school in Bhopal.

From the runway to the ballroom, Glorious Luna reigns supreme.
From the runway to the ballroom, Glorious Luna reigns supreme.L: Taras Taraporvala, R: officialitevents

A germ of entrepreneurship was clearly visible even in the small, community-run Café Fitoor that Luna started by the lakeside as a safe space for queer friends. Audaciously close to a minister's residence, their first business was shut down in eight months by the authorities who were astonished at the 'vulgarity' of it all. Nevertheless, Luna looks back on them as the most beautiful eight months of their life, a haven of intergenerational harmony where straight people and the legendary children could fraternise freely.

So queer people, since childhood, use fashion as a language because they may not necessarily understand who they are.
Glorious Luna

After severing ties with institutionalised education and dabbling with some soul searching in Nepal, Luna found themselves in Mumbai, taking a shot at modelling. "Fashion has this democratic quality, right?" Luna marvels upon how gender and creative expression became entangled in the semiotics of unleashing how they really felt within, nimbly leaping from the runway to the more collective medium of drag in June of 2018. The repressed identity that had been eclipsed by Suruj was finally enkindled into the rising phoenix of Glorious Luna, which they describe as either an extension of themselves or a compartmentalisation of their stage and personal lives, but most importantly the antithesis to crippling self doubt.

Contravening the elite back-patting one finds in metropolitan speakeasies and cocktail bars, Luna scoffs at how intolerant the real world is towards queer and trans folk outside the purview of artistic circles, hinting darkly at straying hands in local trains and being refused service at coffee houses by discerning receptionists. "I get awkward when I think I see that in their eyes," they demur, "It's the sense of being threatened by our existence."

The shyness of Suruj, worried about ragging or being poked fun at, can resurface anytime but the ability to tap into Luna's formidable strength feels cathartic. "Sometimes I try to tell myself that it's okay to bring out your drag character and use it to your advantage even when you're not in drag," Luna confesses.

Sometimes, I get really nervous and I have a major imposter syndrome. But I feel like Glorious Luna rejects all of that.
Glorious Luna

Pirouetting into their thirties, Luna wryly refers to their 'maternal hormones' acting up in connexion to the House they helm within the native yet nascent ballroom scene. Bolstering the confidence among their coterie of like-minded drag children with an uncanny blend of discipline and sage advice, Luna cannot contain the pride they feel for their chosen family. Dispensing homely wisdom regarding makeup and "how to step back when it's somebody else's moment to shine," Luna tries to remain intuitive and compassionate, retracing the footprints of their own mother.

From cover-to-cover, Glorious Luna has been the face of many brands.
From cover-to-cover, Glorious Luna has been the face of many brands.L: Harper's Bazaar India, R: Vaishali S Couture

"Sometimes I get complaints from other queens and then I have to go fight," they snicker conspiratorially. A personal vanity project, the IT Ball 01 kicked off in early July this year at antiSOCIAL (Mumbai) under the banner of IT Events, conceived by the iconic trifecta of Glorious Luna, DeeDeePls, and Rayyan. The ballroom represents a sanctuary, where Luna could fulfil their own thirst for colour and élan, but soon they realised that "a lot of other queer people have similar fantasies." Although they didn't earn much, they didn't lose money either while the sensation of 'walking the walk' amidst a room full of performers who were hooting and cheering for each other is something Luna couldn't find words to articulate.

"I thought that there was this gap in the market where queer people are always wanted in front of the camera for the inclusivity factor," says Luna as they lambast the tokenism and queer-baiting that makes creators from the community feel like they are filling in a quota. Overriding this malfunction, they established Current Management with Nin Kala, their esteemed contemporary in the non-binary fashion realm.

"I feel like when you have power it must be shared otherwise it is going to corrupt you," ponders Luna. Passing on the sceptre to other queens is an act of grace that few have been able to live up to in herstory.

What drag gives me is that sense of power. For once, you know, I feel like I'm seen and heard.
Glorious Luna

When asked how straight people can be better allies, Luna quipped that self-love is key, quoting the infamous Ru Paul and signing off.

"If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?"

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