Sheila performs as a drag king and works with “Beyond Color” to advocate for queer people of color in Munich. As a child, she was already interested in the role of men in society and constantly questioned it. With her drag persona, Smooth Operator, Sheila wants to dismantle the patriarchy, to show that there is both feminine and masculine energy in every human being. “We are all men, just some men have wombs. And that's why they're called women. Just because some men have wombs doesn’t make them any different. In the end we're all human beings.” Smooth Operator is her alter ego: “He's totally natural and quite smooth, not over-the-top, just super relaxed. A lot of people call him a Casanova – and I agree.”
The pandemic was very difficult for Sheila: “Because I’m a healthcare worker, my drag art was very important for my work-life balance. With all the bookings gone, that balance was suddenly missing. On top of that, we had to work so much more due to Covid.” Sheila has been living in Munich since 2014 and worked as an au-pair at the beginning. “I felt really welcome in Munich. I never had a problem getting accustomed and comfortable here. Everything went as planned and I’ve really integrated.” Sheila has learned to accept herself as a queer person and to value the freedom to live as she sees fit.
Her relationship with the local LGBTQIA+ community is ambivalent. “When you go out in the queer scene, it's mainly to look for love and to not feel alone. In this pursuit, I really realized what it means to be Black. That broke me at first, but also forced me to accept myself as a Black and queer person.” The Beyond Color working group has been a big part of that. “Beyond Color is our joint project that we built when we realized: ‘Holy shit, we’re not being accepted here, not properly and completely, and we’re not being represented either.’ Most of the time, we’re just used as tokens and that's a shame.” The people behind Beyond Color engage in anti-discrimination and empowerment work for LGBTQIA+ people of color who experience racism, discrimination and have a migration background.
Sheila’s queerness is very important for her: “Being queer helps me not to feel labeled by society, so that I can show myself as I am without having to hide.” Sheila wishes to increase the visibility of drag kings and make people more aware. “Drag kings aren't that visible in Munich and in Germany in general. Without visibility, we also don't get the necessary spaces to perform.” Sheila wants to start working as a freelancer on the side, get more involved in the art scene again, and thus maintain her work-life balance.