Diego Garijo is a bare-knuckle fighter and drag queen. He also has a wife and kids.
“I don’t give a shit what anybody thinks,” Garijo said this week on the Outsports podcast The GAMEDAY TEA. “My mom says I look ridiculous and hideous and drag and she’s ashamed of it. But I don’t give a fuck. I’m still doing my thing and enjoying it and having a good time.”
Garijo was a dominant MMA fighter, winning seven matches before a detached retina forced him to call it quits. A decade later, Garijo, who’s partially lost his vision, returned to the ring for another brutal sport: bare-knuckle fighting. He’s recorded one win and one loss since he started jousting in 2018.
“I’m not scared to go out there and lose a fight,” he said. “That’s what most people are terrified of. If you talk to a fighter, they feel such shame if they lose a fight: ‘I disappointed my family and all my fans.’ I don’t give a fuck.”
Garijo says his carefree attitude also allows him to shine on stage. Growing up with a single mother and gay cousins — he estimates he’s seen his dad between 12 and 15 times in his life — Garijo wasn’t exposed to many masculine stereotypes. He would wear his mother’s bra and panties around the house.
Finally, a few years ago, he decided to give drag a try. Around the San Diego scene, Garijo is known as “Lola.” The work has allowed him to embrace his feminine said even more. Recently, Garijo swapped his fanny pack for a purse.
And what does he say to those who question how somebody can be a straight drag queen?
“That’s just being close minded,” Garijo said. “You think the way you dress has to do with your sexuality. And it doesn’t. Drag, I see it as a performance art, and sexuality is a point completely removed from that.”
Garijo is fearless, whether he’s taping up his knuckles to fight or putting on heels for a fierce number. He says staying mentally strong is the key to both arts.
“I’m known for beating people who are better than me, because they mentally break,” he said. “There are fights where they’re literally tired of beating my ass, and they quit mentally. So whatever quality that is — maybe I’m too dumb to get scared — that gives me the confidence to do drag or be more feminine around people.”
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You can follow Diego Garijo on Instagram. Read Vice’s profile of him here.