Lucy Stoole, Chicago

Lucy Stoole was born and raised primarily in Kansas City, KS. His family hailed from Natchitoches, Louisiana which was most known as the set location of the legendary film Steel Magnolias (Fun fact: His family worked in many of the set locations that were in the film). At the age of 11, his mother moved him out to Houston, TX to which he spent a brief 3 years in, only to return back home.

Lucy’s early life growing up in Kansas was more than just turbulent as death was around him at a very early age. Lucy says, “From my youngest memories I knew that one of my cousins on my mother’s side of the family had been killed by my Uncle on my dad’s side of my family. That started beef with the families already. This happened way before my mother and father got together… and this.. this is how Kansas and the people I grew up with are all interwoven together.”

Additionally Lucy said, “Then I was about 6 or 7 when my mom’s brother killed himself. He served time in the war, and that just really screwed him up and everything went south from there. It seemed that everyone lost it from that point, and everything crumbled. My mom started having mental breakdowns and was in and out of hospitals”.

This became even more difficult for him when it came to his sexuality. “I knew that I was gay when I was young,” Lucy says, ”I remember me writing in a journal at seven years old identifying myself as gay, because my mom told me what it meant…. and its because my mom knew too. I feel like so much of the hate that she had towards me was about being gay and things like that. It was her trying to deny it and push it away. My mom was super abusive growing up, and (queerness) was one of the reasons for it. It was always about trying to make me less effeminate, and make me stronger and tougher, and not make me cry so much. It used to be hard for me too because I would see so many people turn to their family to find love in a caring form, and I didn’t really have that.”

Because of this, Lucy found himself heavily engaged in school activities, “I was interested in everything, I wanted to a part of music, science, debate, and ROTC. I did literally everything. I think so much of it was that I was trying to find somewhere where I could be comfortable and safe in. Those years are the worst so you are constantly looking for that group of people that let you be you and validate you.”

Thriving in this environment, Lucy went on to graduate high school with a scholarship to Central College, which laid within the Dutch reformed community out in Pella, Iowa. This transition proved to be a complete 180 for him culturally. Lucy states, “While I wasn’t the only black guy in that town, I definitely stood out. I think there were like five of us. That whole experience was crazy coming from my community because I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas in Wyandotte County which had 2 million people in it and 96% of them were African American. I grew up with nothing but Black culture around me.. so I knew that I would be shaking things up.. and I wanted that, because I could teach a lot of people about my culture out there.”

While Lucy had come out to himself at a very early age initially, he remained in the closet for his entire high school and college life. During his Freshman year at Central College, Lucy ended up in a relationship with his girlfriend who would remain with him for the first few years of his college life. They had a wonderful tight knit group of friends, and Lucy thrived in what he recalls as his “best and most formative years”. He initially was to study pre law, but ended up going for musical theatre instead, and at the end of his junior year, Lucy left Pella and headed back to Kansas City.

This move would prove to be very difficult as Lucy struggled with the idea of returning to the city and life that proved too unsafe to thrive in. Immediately upon returning he realized that this wasn’t the place for him. “I didn’t really feel at home in Kansas City anymore, and I had already lost one of my younger siblings at this point.” Lucy says, “I was dreading having to be back there with all of these horrible memories of growing up and all the people that had died…. and there was this thought that I was going to be next one of those people that were going to die. I couldn’t figure out what to do.”

Realizing this mistake, Lucy returned back to Pella to be with the friends that loved him, and was convinced by his best friend Hightower to do so. This is where he recognized that being with his chosen family really helped him become the person he is today. Years later however, his friend started going through a deep depression and he ended up trying to kill himself. He was relocated back home to get back on his feet, and Lucy was left in the place that they rented, and didn’t want to be there by himself.

Dealing with the nostalgic whiplash of tragedy in his own family that he experienced as a kid, and dealing with the near loss of his friend, Lucy was left in a limbo of uncertainty of what to do. He couldn’t stay in Pella where he experienced the heartbreak of almost losing his best friend, and he couldn’t go back home to where he felt unsafe. It was here that he was convinced by one of his former fraternity brothers, who was doing drag under the name Sophia Sapphire, to move to Chicago.

In Chicago Lucy started to really find himself. He came out of the closet the minute he moved to the city, and began to live the life that he always wanted. It would also be here where Lucy would start performing.

Sophia Sapphire was the first person that got Lucy Stoole in drag, in which Lucy’s first drag name was “Estuary Palomino”. The first time that she performed was co-hosting with Sophia at Crew Bar and Grill in Uptown for a halloween show in where she dressed Lucy up as Diana Ross. Even though he had a great time, he wouldn’t touch drag for another 4 years. Lucy states, “There was a huge gap in between me first doing drag and later on. I was working in an office for a team of headhunters for the medical field primarily for CEO’s and COO’s. I was their lowly little desk boy/errand boy who worked in fact checking. I was in the office 8 to 5 for 4 years so I was really focusing on that part of my life. I was doing well, I had a 401k, and was able to help out my grandmother financially. I thought that this is what I was supposed to be doing with my life. ”

Lucy would find herself in and out of drag here and there, but it wasn’t until years later at an Oscar’s party where the end of Estuary Palomino and the beginning of Lucy Stoole happened. “All I remember was that I was wearing a yellow gown and a yellow wig, and my roommate ended up calling me “Lucy Stoole”. We died laughing for nearly thirty minutes over it, and we just KNEW that would become my new name.”

Lucy wasn’t your normal queen at the time, and really loved the idea of fringe and queer drag, in which he met a fellow eccentric drag queen named Anita. “Anita lit a fire in me to be myself.” Lucy says, “ She was kind of like my drag sister. She was the one that pulled me into it because she was grotesque and weird and she wanted to do different stuff and we were performing Siouxsie Sioux and all kinds of things that no one wanted to see or hear in Boystown.”

In the beginning of her career, Lucy and Anita had a difficult time trying to get on stage, and it proved to be very challenging for her beginning as a drag queen. “I was like a bearded candy prostitute. Nobody wanted us on the stage. We used to perform skits from Jiz, songs like Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” and stuff like that.

And because nobody wanted that kind of drag, Lucy took it into his own hands and started his night called “Fabitat”. Lucy says, “It was me, my roommate Chris, my best friend Marissa, and Adam LeBlanc from 16 Candles… We came together and wanted to start something out in Wicker Park. We wanted to do this at Double Door and in the basement, and just go balls to the wall, because we couldn’t do it in Boystown. We came up with the name Fabitat because that was the name that we called our apartment. It was called the “Fabulous Fag Fabitat”, and it was a place that everyone was welcome to be. I wanted to extend that same vibe to a night where anyone could come and do drag. I wanted everyone to have a place.”

Because of this night and Lucy networking through the channels of Berlin, things began to change rapidly for him. Lucy says, “Before all of this I was not a blip on the radar. I was somebody who hung out with somebody, nobody remembered my name or saw me then. Everyone was nice to me and I had good friends who I still have now.. but I was just the guy who was hanging out with the queens.” Fabitat changed that for Lucy and the queens who didn’t fit the Boystown scene. Lucy and his friends created a space that harbored the missing elements of punk rock, art house, and fringe drag, and this night became the catalyst to change the way that Chicago responded to drag.

From here, Lucy’ quickly became a household name to all the queers of the city and beyond. He began to co-host “LQQKS” at Berlin, QUEEN! at SmartBar, as well as creating another night called “Deep Dish” in Boystown. Not only was he the recent winner of the “Chicago Nightlife Awards”, but he consistently is being featured in news articles, documentaries, music videos, and all over the media for all the things he has done for our community.

Despite the lack of family security in his younger years, Lucy has become the mother to all of us who are lost and searching for a place to belong. He was (and is) the catalyst that revived the queer performance community and gave us the space to embrace our inner eccentric. Realizing the power of a ‘chosen’ family to which he’d find out in Pella, IA, Lucy brought that tight knit feeling he experienced and spread it to the queer community out in Chicago. Lucy says, “The fact that I was able to make a spot for other people to come in and make their own spot and to shake all the shit that everyone had gotten so used to, thats awesome, thats the coolest thing ever to me”

I think we can all agree that its the coolest thing too.

Lucy is a juggernaut of punk rock, anti conformist, non binary, and gender fluid drag that fights the antiquated rules of gender performance, all the while mothering to those lost and confused in a sea of traditions. “She’s a lot of things,” Lucy says, “She’s an extension of me. She’s filthy, glamorous, outgoing, she’s a mom, she’s a future icon, an activist, she’s definitely a lover, and also a fucking fighter. She’s an amalgam of all the women in my life who have kept me alive. Every single woman that has kept me grounded, made sure I was fed, taught me about sex, showed me a cute outfit, introduced me into being a little bit more comfortable with my femme side. She’s like every woman like that put together.”

Lucy is the epitome of the drag thats causing the revolution out here in Chicago. She’s made this city a place for us displaced queers navigating the world to finally find home. Without her, we would still be searching.

Share:
0

Your Cart