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#Pride30: Drag shows a satisfying slice of life for Cake

Aaron Mann has been dressing up in drag for three and a half years.

Winnipeg's Aaron Mann, a.k.a. Cake, dresses up in drag as a form of art.

Tina Jansen Photography

Winnipeg's Aaron Mann, a.k.a. Cake, dresses up in drag as a form of art.

For 26-year-old Aaron Mann, performing in drag is a form of art expression.

“Through it I have been able to channel my traumas and life experiences into something that is completely my own, which is so gratifying,” said Mann, who performs as Cake. “Honestly, doing drag has changed my life for the better and has allowed me to embrace qualities about myself that I perceived as weakness and transformed them into strengths.”

Mann – who goes by the pronouns “he” and “she” interchangeably, whether dressed up for a show or not – started doing drag three-and-a-half years ago.

“My interest in drag initially began with watching RuPaul's Drag Race. But the more research I did into drag, I realized that it was an amalgamation of my many creative interests, such as sewing, painting, acting, music,” he said.

He started getting everything he needed for performing, including practicing makeup and going to shows.

In drag culture, a new drag queen is taken under a more experienced drag queen’s wing to learn. Vida Lamour DeCosmo and Satina Loren are Cake’s “drag mothers.”

When Mann started doing drag, he got involved with the Imperial and Sovereign Court of Winnipeg and All of Manitoba, which he describes as essentially doing drag for charity. Dressed up as Cake, she was crowned Imperial Crown Princess and also became a board member.

Last year, Cake decided to run for Empress, and the community elected her. She won and was crowned on July 16, 2016.

“Being Empress has been such an incredible experience. It has given me the chance to be a representative and advocate for the community,” said Cake. “I have been able to work with many organizations within the city and reach out and spread a positive message.”

“It's a very humbling experience to put a piece of yourself out into the world and have it accepted.”

Favourite Pride moment?

My favourite Pride moment would probably have to be the first time I walked as an out gay man. It was a very distinct moment of freedom for me. 

Why was Pride important 30 years ago?

I think Pride was important 30 years ago because it took an incredible amount of courage for the originators of the first march to do what they did and put us on the path to where we are today.

Why is Pride important now?

I think Pride is important today because although the setting has changed a bit there are still steps we need to climb and issues we need to conquer to make our future even brighter. We should celebrate how far we have come, but we need to acknowledge where to go next. 

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