Meet the fresher drag queen, dancer and transgender champion

‘Haters always make me better’

While some people get grumpy with just a nine to five day, Bradley Denton unzips into a dazzling second life, fights mental battles to accept himself for who he is and still manages to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.

Bradley transforms himself into fabulous drag persona Pearle Gattes.

The Dance fresher at Leeds Beckett has battled getting lynched at an ATM, the silent treatment from his dad and the daunting thought of being born in the wrong body.

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He said: “Ever since I was little I’ve always liked wearing heels. Whenever I walked into a shop I’d always go into the womenswear.

“The thought of doing drag first occurred to me at about 13 years old. I used to put on pretty much everything I could find in mum’s makeup. My first show was at The Pink Pony in York on January 26th 2013 and it went really well.

Selby-bred Bradley adds: “My uni course helped make me someone different to just a man in a dress.”

“I learnt partly with youtube. You can also speak to a drag queen and they become like your drag mum. I was lucky because I had both.”

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When he first came out as gay to his parents, Bradley’s dad refused to speak to him. Since then, life has had its struggles.

One night, when he was simply drawing money from a cash machine, three men attacked him just because he was a man in a dress.

He said: “I respect their views that they’re not understanding of drag. I respect that they don’t like the idea of men being in dresses and I’m not angry at them.”

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Bradley spends over two hours getting into character as Pearle Gattes. But alongside his drag persona, he also struggles with the mental and emotional marathon of changing gender.

The Beckett first year says: “I just need to accept myself before transition because it’s a long process that you can’t take back. I haven’t really spoken to my family about it yet, I think they have an idea but I’ll need to say it one day.

“The people on my course are the best to talk to I feel – they’re going to be there for three years with me.

“It may even happen before finishing uni if I have enough courage and confidence.”

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In the meantime, you can find him performing in places such as Viaduct, Queens Court and The Bridge, all in the lower Briggate area. His advice for anyone interested in doing anything similiar would be to learn from existing performers.

He said: “The main place is Viaduct Show Bar because there’s a show every Friday and Saturday.

“There’s different generations there. It starts with the young girls and then the more established ones. If you’re interested, go watch how they do it and question them on their makeup and wigs etc. I did that.

“You can’t have a quiet voice in drag, you have to speak up.”

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For anyone facing difficulties similiar to Bradley, he recommends going to Yorkshire MesMac. They’re based around help regarding STIs but help people with trans and LGBT issues too.

For drag, as well as youtube, he learnt a lot from Ru Paul drag race that features a lot of their professional stories which you can learn from.

Regarding transgender changes, it’s best to speak to your GP first if you’re worried or have any questions. An assessment is normally done and advice given from there.

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