Drag Therapy – developed by psychotherapist Leon Silvers

Leon Silvers is a psychotherapist in New York City. He is the creator of Drag Therapy, a therapeutic modality that helps individuals access and embody various parts of themselves through dressing up and the act of play.

Leon Silvers is a psychotherapist in New York City. He is the creator of Drag Therapy, a therapeutic modality that helps individuals access and embody various parts of themselves through costume and/or drag. Leon Silvers is the special guest in Drag Heals season 2 episode 2 ‘Drag Therapy’.

Leon Silvers is a psychotherapist in New York City.  He is the creator of Drag Therapy, a therapeutic modality that helps individuals access and embody various parts of themselves through dressing up and the act of play.
Leon Silvers is a psychotherapist in New York City. He is the creator of Drag Therapy, a therapeutic modality that helps individuals access and embody various parts of themselves through costume and/or drag.

Leon, who is your drag persona?  How do they highlight or reveal parts of you in bigger and more dramatic ways?

My Drag Persona is Pink Freud. Embodying this persona allows me to fully embrace parts of myself that I dont always get to experience so fully. I get to be over the top with my playfulness, courageousness and gregariousness. I dont have to hold back because playing Pink gives me permission to be as big as I would like. 

Does the idea of drag as therapeutic or being healing resonate with you? Why? 

Absolutely! That is why I created Drag Therapy. When you embody a drag persona or simply put on a costume, you’re able to access many different parts of yourself that you typically aren’t able to access. That doesn’t just have to be fierce qualities, it can be more vulnerable parts of yourself too. Being dressed in your particular persona, and you can have many,  can be an easier and gentler way to access those feelings or parts of yourself. The therapeutic power of drag doesn’t even require a full drag look. Try simply putting on a beautiful “diamond” necklace or tiara, look in the mirror, and see how you feel. It can be hard to feel sad when you’re covered in jewels. 

How important for your health and wellness is the act of playing?

It is crucial! Drag Therapy is actually a play therapy. Play is inversely correlated to depression and anxiety. Meaning, the more we are able to play, the less depressed and anxious we will be. I try to center my life around being able to play. Right now, because of Covid, my play is in the wilderness- hiking, camping, exploring. And of course bringing my drag to the wilderness and playing with costumes there. Play also helps us unlock our creativity and spontaneity which I believe are key to improving mental health. 

How can the drag community benefit from being more inclusive?

 I think it is important for the drag community to recognize that drag really is just about play and that there is no one size fits all for drag artistry. Drag can take many shapes, forms, and sizes and it’s really just about being yourself, being creative, and having fun. The drag community really is just a large sandbox where people come to play, create, connect, transform, and help others access their sense of play. 

What’s brought you the most joy working with the Drag Heals cast?

It was truly an unbelievable experience working with the cast of Drag Heals because all of the participants were so open and eager to playing and being challenged . Improv can be a challenging task and the participants were so courageous and took so many risks, despite the cameras rolling. It was also incredible to see how cohesive and connected they were as a group and it was only the second week. That really speaks to the openness of the group and also the amazing skills of Tracey, their fearless leader.

How has it been collaborating with Tracey Erin Smith to help shape the one-person shows?

Tracey is a phenomenal human! She really is an inspiring woman. She is so creative, passionate, enthusiastic, and really creates an environment that is conducive to creative and personal growth. She has been incredibly encouraging and supportive of me and my work and it is a pleasure to be able to work with her. I want to be a participant next season just so I can learn more from her!

What do you hope the TV audience gets out of watching Drag Heals? 

I hope the Drag Heals viewers learn that drag is a playful art form that is accessible to anyone and everyone. Drag doesn’t have to be dressing as a fierce queen or king; it is simply playing with costume, makeup, performance, movement, and/or whatever other creative expression you can imagine. We are all in drag every day. When we can intentionally manipulate our drag, we can access our creativity, curiosity, and sense of freedom, and let go of our inhibitions and control, and have fun!

Connect with Leon Silvers and learn more about Drag Therapy:

@DragTherapyNYC

 www.SilversPsychotherapy.com

Watch Drag Heals Season 2 on your favourite platforms:

Vimeo

Amazon

OUTtv Canada and OUTtvGo

Testicular Self-Exam video with Johnny Rapid

testicular self-exam video

Learn how to do a monthly step-by-step check-up on your balls with this NSFW testicular self-exam video starring Johnny Rapid.

We have been exploring all things related to Balls and if the topic interests you, I invite you to read some of our other articles and watch the documentary for further insight.

Some of the topics we look at include the importance of etymology, that is being specific in the words we use, like in the case of gender reassignment and gender confirmation.

Beyond testicular cancer, we discover lesser known complications a person can have with testicles such as testicular torsion or varicocele. 

We even speak with some drag queens to discover just where the balls go when they tuck.

It’s easy to do so there’s no excuses!   Just follow along in this NSFW testicular self-exam video and do what Johnny does.

JOHNNY RAPID: My balls are my moneymaker so it’s important that I check them at least once a month to make sure they’re in prime condition.

So, how do I check that my balls are ready to play and stay that way? Pull your pants down guys and go through the steps with me to make sure your balls are healthy and strong.

Check your testicles just after you’ve had a bath or shower. When the muscles in the scrotum are relaxed making it easier for you to feel any lumps, growths or tenderness.

Stand in front of a mirror. Look for any swelling on the skin of your scrotum. Hold your scrotum in your hands and feel the size and weight of each testicle. Don’t worry if one ball is a little bigger or one hangs lower than the other that’s normal.

Feel each ball and roll it between your thumb and finger. It should feel smooth, it’s normal to feel a soft, tender tube towards the back of each testicle, that’s where your sperm are made. You shouldn’t feel any pain when checking your testicles.

Once you get to know your balls keep an eye out for any changes If you detect a change, don’t freak out just see a doctor as soon as possible.

My balls have stayed the same since my last self exam so that means I’m ready to go to work. Make sure you check your balls at least once a month and if you notice any changes go see your doctor right away.

If you would like to know more, please check out the film, Balls.

You can also watch Balls on Vimeo, Amazon, or on the Border2Border Store.

Working with Johnny Rapid to make the Testicular Self-Exam video was definitely fun but it wasn’t a ‘one take wonder’.  Take a look at some of the goof ball antics that we went through to get the video.

HIV+ Youth doc talk with Charlie David

“When the subject of doing a documentary on HIV+ youth surfaced it scared me.  That’s also how I knew it was a good idea.”

What inspired you to make a documentary on HIV+ youth?

I was in New York meeting with LOGO TV network and we were throwing around ideas – when the subject of doing a documentary on HIV+ youth surfaced it scared me.  That’s also how I knew it was a good idea.  I knew it would not be an easy film to make in terms of finding subjects willing to share their life and struggles living with a chronic illness that holds so much stigma in our society.  The most dramatic rise in new transmissions is in our youth – why?  It’s time we re-examine the illness and our ideas surrounding it.

 

HIV+ youth - Charlie David photo by Ronald Tan

Charlie David photo by Ronald Tan

What was your process for choosing HIV+ youth to follow in the documentary?

The face of HIV is the human face.  It does not discriminate.  It was important to me that I show subjects from different socio-economic backgrounds, a mix of ethnicities and sexuality.  It was not easy to find my subjects – I had a lot of people say no which is understandable.  Often HIV positive people face so much stigma within their workplace, families, friends, potential relationships and society at large that the thought of then opening their lives to be in forty-five million television sets in homes across the USA is scary to say the least.  Slowly and surely I found brave young people willing to share and the stories are very powerful.

What separates your film from other HIV related documentaries?

We’ve seen a lot of important retrospective films on HIV/AIDS.  I wanted to do something different and so focusing on the population that is most at risk today and yet facing a very different disease than the epidemic of the last thirty years made sense.  HIV is now a chronic illness meaning that it is manageable with treatment and the likelihood is that a positive person will live a long and healthy life comparable to a negative person aside from the burden of meds and facing the emotional and psychological stress of discrimination.

Do you think it’s harder for people to deal with HIV today than before?

I think overall it’s easier for HIV+  youth and people of all ages now because of the amazing advances in science, medicine and our understanding of how HIV works within our bodies.  We’ve had a shift in the first world from a fear of dying to fear of segregation and potential to find love.  In the end that’s the greatest sadness I witnessed in making the film – the fear these young people had of never finding someone who would accept and love them regardless of their HIV positive status.

 WATCH POSITIVE YOUTH on your favorite platform.

    

Do you think this film will help others better understand the HIV+ youth of today?

In the film we discuss what it felt like to get the HIV positive diagnosis, the fear of disclosure, trying to make sense of all the information, building support systems, advocacy, and hope for the future.  Similar to the movement for racial, gender or sexuality equality – the first step is removing fear and that most often comes in the form of education.  The four stars in the film bare their hearts and souls.  They offer themselves as accessible and relatable and I hope that audiences will be able to empathize, to gain a greater understanding and to start seeing the human faces and not just the illness.

What can people do to help and support HIV+ youth?

I think the most important thing we can do right now is get ourselves up to date with sex education and the current state of HIV as individuals.  Then the individual can begin to marshal and politely correct her/his peers when a stigmatizing comment comes up.  That’s really step one.  We need to embrace positive people in our society and stop seeing them as fearful or the other.  That’s where the healing really begins for everyone.  I think we also need to listen to our youth and find out where we have failed them in terms of safe sex education.  How do we ‘speak’ to them through education more effectively?

Watch Director Charlie David interviewed by NeverApart Creative Director Michael Venus.

FIND OUT MORE WITH THIS IN-DEPTH ARTICLE ABOUT MAKING THE DOCUMENTARY, POSITIVE YOUTH.

 WATCH POSITIVE YOUTH on your favorite platform.

     


 

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