Natalie Ray on Being a Drag Performer from Russia

Host Maureen Langan talked to Alexander Pikul, also known by his drag name Natalie Ray, about the challenges he faced growing up gay in Russia and his decision to move to San Francisco three years ago.

Ray fell in love with the city when he visited at 18, saying after just two days he knew San Francisco was his home. Pikul made his dream a reality at 20.

“I packed my bag, I had a suitcase with the drag stuff, with all the costumes, and I had the boy clothes on me, and I had a ticket and $600,” said Pikul.

Pikul said he realized being gay was “not okay” from a young age in Russia and to this day still hides this part of himself from the majority of his family back home, where ridiculing someone for their sexuality is the norm.

Pikul has since gotten involved in the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the LGBTQ+ community. A documentary chronicling the sisters’ visit to China’s Pride, “Stilettos for Shanghai,” will be shown Aug. 7th at the Castro Theatre. Pikul will be speaking prior to the screening. See more information here.

Listen to the full segment below.


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