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Letting Go

The road to saying, "I'm gay." Richmonders share the stories that changed their lives.

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Alvion Davenport/Darryl Jones - SCOTT ELMQUIST

Alvion Davenport / Darryl Jones, 26
Professional Female Impersonator

I am sexually attracted to men, but over the last five years I have been dating a female who is a lesbian but she dresses as a male.

Style: What's the lesson in all that?

Stop judging. Who says there has to be a label? No judging. None whatsoever. You have to give everybody a fair chance. Everybody likes different things. Not to get political, but I think the main [issue facing our country], we need more unity — with everything in life. We're all people.

I came from a family where I'm the youngest — so I have two older sisters and an older brother. And being the baby of the family I was always the spoiled one, of course. I never really had to deal with the feeling-different part. I guess it was thrown off on my being spoiled — my softness, and the femininity.

I was accepted at my high school, all the kids knew, and I never really ran into any bullying or anything like that.

The light-switch moment came when Alvion was created. That was senior year in high school. Our school was called John Marshall, so the mascot was a Justice. So all through high school we had the Mr. and Miss Justice competition. So when I got to my senior year and was able to compete we got a new principal. ... She cut the Mr. Justice part of it, and only had the Miss. So I was very urged to even consider entering the Miss part of the competition ... but I thought, maybe I'll leave that alone.

Graduating from high school, and my first time ever going to the club, which was Godfrey's, I saw a drag show, and that's when the light bulb was like, diiinggg. This is where you belong. And from that moment, about two months later, I entered a drag competition there, and won. And the rest is history.

Growing up, I had a cousin who was the same age, two or three years' difference, from my mom. We were very close to each other, and she passed away, unfortunately, about three years ago. ... But I sat her down because I wanted to tell her, because we talked about absolutely everything. And she kind of had a clue. So I was planning to tell her my coming-out story, but in turn she told me my coming-out story: "So before you even stress yourself about coming out to me, I'm coming out to you and letting you know that I'll love you regardless, and I'll always accept you, and when you're ready I'll take you to your mom and we can do it together."

That was probably one of the best moments of my life.

Three or four months after, we were at my parents' house, and I was on the phone talking to a little sweetheart I had met at school. ... My nephew [said something about me being gay]. So I immediately hung up the phone, and my mom came into the room, and was like, "Are you gay, is there something you need to tell me?" And I was like, "Well if I am gay, then what?" And she's like, "Well if you are gay, I'll love you anyway, I'll support you. As a mother we kind of know these things. ... I was just waiting for you in your own time to come to me and tell me."

At that moment, once she knew, I didn't really care about anyone else knowing. So from there, it was just full-fledged out there. To me, the person that I am onstage is also the person that I am offstage. I'm always a bubbly personality; I'm always willing to have fun. Most of my friends, and even some of my family, call me Alvion, because that's who I've been. A lot of my family comes out to see [my shows]. At this point, it's amazing.

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